Perez agreed to a minor league contract with the Pirates on Friday that includes an invitation to spring training, Adam Berry of MLB.com reports. The 26-year-old speedster split time between the Triple-A affiliates of the Astros and Rays organizations, batting .256 with 20 stolen bases between the two stops. For a guy with as much speed as he possesses, Perez doesn't walk all that much, so until he starts to hit for a higher average, he'll continue to act as organizational outfield depth.
Perez was reassigned to minor league camp Monday. After a solid start to camp with the Astros, Perez went hitless over his last 14 Grapefruit League at-bats. The speedy outfielder will likely report to Triple-A Fresno to open 2016.
In 12 Grapefruit League appearances, Perez is 6-for-18 (.333) with three RBI and a stolen base for the Astros. The outfield is crowded in Houston, with Carlos Gomez, George Springer and Colby Rasmus occupying starting roles, with defensive whiz Jake Marisnick and Preston Tucker behind them as the fourth and fifth outfielders respectively. Perez will likely open 2016 in Triple-A, where he's recorded at least 20 stolen bases in each of the last four seasons.
Perez was non-tendered by the Braves on Thursday. He suffered a broken hand in late August last season, but that is not the main reason the Braves declined to extend him a contract. In Atlanta's intensive rebuild, players like Perez who require arbitration offers and do not fit into their long-term plans have no place on the roster. He hit .269 but slugged just .303 in 133 plate appearances last year, and should struggle to gain fantasy relevance, regardless of what team he catches on with this winter.
The Braves announced Monday they have recalled catcher Christian Bethancourt from Triple-A, giving the young backstop another opportunity after his demotion to the minors in June. Bethancourt hit .198 prior to his demotion with the parent club, but at Gwinnett, was hitting over .300. In a corresponding move, the Braves optioned utility man Eury Perez to Triple-A.
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