- Adam Rubin, ESPN Staff Writer
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Team officials informed Perez he was being let go despite being owed $12 million in the final year of his contract. The Mets had begun the weekend already having absorbed Castillo's $6 million as the purge of bloated contracts from Omar Minaya's era as general manager continued.
"When they told me, I almost knew what they were going to tell me," Perez said inside the clubhouse at the team's spring training complex after shaking hands with teammates. "It's one of those times you don't feel great, but I don't want to quit."
Perez indicated he believed he got a fair shot from the Mets' new regime.
"I think they gave me an opportunity," he said. "They were fair with me when I came here. 'We're going to give you an opportunity to be a starter.' I didn't do anything great. They moved me to the bullpen trying to be a lefty specialist. And the last game, that was a real horrible job."
Perez, 29, is in the final season of a three-year, $36 million deal. He went 3-9 with a 6.81 ERA in 31 appearances (21 starts) during the first two seasons of the contract.
The amount owed to Perez ranks near the top of the unofficial list of largest contracts eaten in organization history, with Castillo also high on the list. Perez is No. 1 in terms of outright money owed; however, Bobby Bonilla worked out a deal that eclipses $12 million.
When the Mets cut bait with Bonilla after the 1999 season, they were on the hook for $5.9 million. Instead, the Mets agreed to pay Bonilla $29.8 million between 2011 and 2035. Those annual $1,193,248.20 payments begin July 1.
The Mets also have eaten:
If not for Duaner Sanchez's taxi-cab accident in the early morning hours of July 31, 2006 on I-95 in Miami that severely injured the reliever's shoulder and ultimately derailed the reliever's career, Perez might never have become a Met. While keeping Sanchez's accident hush-hush on trade-deadline day, the Mets re-engaged the Pittsburgh Pirates in talks, reviving a deal then-GM Minaya had shelved earlier that month. The Mets agreed to send Xavier Nady to the Pirates for right-hander Roberto Hernandez and Perez, with Hernandez the more urgent need, to take over Sanchez's late-inning bullpen role.
Perez was 3-13 with a 6.63 ERA that season with the Pirates, and had been languishing at Triple-A Indianapolis for a month with sagging velocity and out-of-whack mechanics when the deal was consummated.
Perez's Mets fate appeared cemented when he allowed consecutive homers to open a relief appearance against the Nationals on Saturday. Perez's Grapefruit League ERA swelled to 8.38.
The spring-training crowd jeered Perez after manager Terry Collins pulled the lefty.
Perez's velocity has hovered mostly in the 85 mph range this spring. That might be enough for a control pitcher such as fellow left-hander Chris Capuano to succeed, but it left no margin for error with Perez, who has had control problems.
"The velocity was not there. The command was not there," Alderson said. "It wasn't going to work in a starting role. It didn't appear as if it were going to work in a relief role, at least anytime soon."
When Perez threw 8-10 mph harder earlier in his career, batters needed to commit to pitches earlier and chased outside the strike zone. Now batters have more reaction time to lay off balls and punish strikes.
Perez's propensity for walks -- he issued 32 in 39 2/3 innings in the Mexican winter league this offseason -- did not make him an effective candidate to be a left-handed specialist. Facing Philadelphia's Ryan Howard late in a tight ballgame with runners on base requires someone with pinpoint control.
Shortly after his release, Perez said he will try to continue to play baseball.
"I think I've got more in my career," Perez said.
Castillo has already gotten a chance to continue his career, signing a minor league deal with the Phillies on Monday.
"For a variety of reasons it was important to have them in camp," Alderson said of Perez and Castillo. "To start with, I didn't want to do anything rash or reflexive given what I had heard about the situation here. And so I think it was important to bring them to camp, and then once brought to camp give them a legitimate opportunity. I think in both cases we tried to do that."
Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com.
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