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The Nationals have found their 2021 version of Brock Holt, in Hernan Perez.
First baseman, check. Power hitter, check. Fourth starter, check. Utility infielder, potentially a check. While the Nationals faithful continue to hold out hope Tommy La Stella is signed to a major league contract, another veteran utility player has been signed to a minor league contract. Before you get your hopes up, the player is not named Brock Holt. The player is Nernan Perez.
Now, if you are like me, you may have had to check the baseball-reference page on Hernan Perez. He isn’t exactly a household name. He’s been around since 2012, however, and saw regular action for the Milwaukee Brewers from 2016-18.
The #Nationals are signing Hernán Pérez a MiLB deal with Spring Training invite, per source.
Los Nacionales de Washington llegaron a un acuerdo con Hernán Pérez. Es un contrato de liga menor, con invitación a Spring Training, según fuente.
— Daniel Álvarez Montes (@DanielAlvarezEE) January 21, 2021
Perez is a light hitting, glove-first player, who carries a career OPS of .667. The aspect of his game which stands out, and draws comparison to former National Brock Holt, is the fact Perez regularly plays all over the field. He has appeared in at least 28 games at every position except for pitcher and catcher. Though he has gotten into seven games as a pitcher in his career, carrying a lifetime earned run average of 7.36.
Holt has played at least 12 games at every position outside of catcher and pitcher, though made his mound debut last season as a member of the Nationals. And consequently was called upon to relieve in a second game as well.
Both general manager Mike Rizzo and manager Davey Martinez love having versatile players who can play multiple positions on their team. This was the reason Holt, who was jettisoned by the Milwaukee Brewers after hitting .100 in 16 games, was scooped up by the Nationals last year.
There was always a chance he could return this season, though his chances took a hit when Josh Harrison was re-signed prior to the free agency period opening up. One by one, 40-man roster spots are being filled, and while there is room for Holt, don’t hold your breath.
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While he has played all over the field, Hernan has seen the most time at third base and could act as a backup to Carter Kieboom, should he make the team out of spring training. We’ll continue to monitor the offseason and if the Nationals don’t splurge on La Stella, they have themselves a less-expensive Brock Holt, in Hernan Perez.