Martín Pérez was hoping for a long-term deal. He didn’t get it. He hopes to get one after the 2023 season. For now, he’s backing himself and hoping to help the Texas Rangers turn things around.
“I want to be a part of the story,” Pérez said Wednesday in his first meeting with the Dallas-Fort Worth media after his return to the Rangers.
Pérez accepted Rangers’ $19.65 million qualifying offer before Wednesday’s deadline. In fact, he said he told Rangers his intention to return a few days before the deadline but after Rangers executed a trade to bring in veteran starter Jake Odorizzi from Atlanta.
Rangers are now focused on signing at least one more experienced starter, likely at the higher end of the free-agent market.
The only team rumored to be courting Pérez were the Los Angeles Angels, who instead signed Dodgers pitcher Tyler Anderson to a three-year, $39 million deal. This deal will bring Anderson $13 million a year.
Pérez said Anderson’s deal had nothing to do with his return to Texas. But he firmly believes in a longer contract in his future.
“I believe in myself, so I know what I have to do now,” Pérez said. “But I feel 100 percent that next year is going to be a better year because I know how to pitch now.”
Pérez enjoyed the best season of his career when he won 12-8 with a 2.89 ERA, the latter among the best in the American League. He threw 196 1/3 innings, just two innings from his career high. He had a career-high 169 strikeouts. He also made the All-Star team for the first time.
He did all of this with an annual salary of $4 million, Rangers’ best bargain in 2022. Pérez is getting a $15 million raise, and the qualifying offer equals his highest salary in a single year.
Pérez said several times last season that he wanted to return. The Rangers signaled the same desire. In the end, the home game – as Pérez called it Wednesday – won as one of just two players to accept his team’s qualifying offer. San Francisco outfielder Joc Pederson was the other.
“I feel good now,” Pérez said. “That’s why I decided to come back and pitch for Rangers.
As for the offseason, Pérez, like everyone else, is waiting for Rangers to hire a pitching coach. He will split his time between Arlington and Miami, where part of his family lives, while he prepares for spring training. He also said he intends to make himself available to Venezuela for the 2023 World Baseball Classic, which is being held during spring training.
For now, Pérez just wants to improve and get better by 2023. He said he believes it “100 percent.”
“Because if you don’t think so, I might not take the qualification offer,” Pérez said. “I believe in my stuff. I believe in myself and I know it will get better.”
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard
catch up Inside the rangers on Facebook and Twitter.