Appreciating Jhonny Peralta While Waiting for Biogenesis Suspensions

Jul 28, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta (27) hits a grand slam home run in the sixth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers are playing the waiting game, along with everyone else, anxiously waiting for the pronouncement of names and suspensions related to the Biogenesis PED “scandal”. It certainly sounds like Jhonny Peralta will ultimately receive a 50-game ban this season, but no one’s saying for sure. Not that we would expect them to.

But in the middle of all the questions and talk, Jim Leyland hits on an interesting point. That the Jhonny Peralta for Giovanni Soto trade that Dave Dombrowksi made in 2010 ended up being an incredible steal for the Tigers. Here’s a quote from Leyland from the Oakland Press:

I don’t know if anything’s gonna happen and I’m not gonna comment on it until something does happen. Jhonny Peralta, in my opinion, and I can’t believe that nobody ever mentions this in the Detroit media, in my opinion, I don’t know how this is going to play out, but up until this point, I think Jhonny Peralta is one of the best trades that Dave Dombrowski ever made and it never gets any credit. Nobody ever talks about it. I never read anything about it. This is a great trade. This was one of Dave Dombrowski’s finest, in my opinion. He’s been on two All-Star teams.

Soto, still just 22, has had a relatively successful minor league career and will probably pitch in the big leagues some day (though it appears that he’s been pitching out of the bullpen in AAA this year), but he was a small price to pay for what will end up being three years of Jhonny Peralta.

Since joining the Tigers midway through the 2010 season, Peralta has accumulated 1828 plate appearances and hit for a .276/.332/.433 slash line. For some context, the accompanying 106 OPS+ that the slash line represents is exactly what major league left fielders are averaging this season. That’s pretty darn good out of the shortstop position (which typically averages an OPS+ of about 90).

According to FanGraphs, Peralta’s 454 games with Detroit have been worth a total of 11.2 WAR. Not only does that mean he played at a near-All Star level (on the whole, he made two teams), but it’s an incredible value when you also consider that the club has only paid him a total of $16.4 million so far. A quick dollars per WAR rule of thumb for the free agent market is something like $5 million (likely higher now, but $5 million is nice and round), which means the Tigers would have been expected to pay something closer to $55 million on the open market to have replicated that production.

Nearly $40 million in surplus value – money that has gone to help bring on players like Torii Hunter, Victor Martinez, and Prince Fielder – has been well worth a potential future bullpen arm.

Peralta hasn’t been without flaws – and I know many fans will grumble at him if/when he gets suspended (and yeah, shame on him if he took performance enhancing drugs) – but he’s been a very valuable player these past years, and Dave Dombrowski certainly doesn’t get enough credit for both the original trade and the subsequent extension.

Topics: Biogenesis, Detroit Tigers, Jhonny Peralta

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  • Tim OConnor

    Jim makes a good point. That WAS a very good trade for us, and people typically DON’T mention it in the list of Dave’s better trades. He’s been great for us. Very little range; but very sure hands and a strong arm from short. We’ll miss him. No doubt about it. But we’re a lot stronger up the middle now; and that’s not a bad thing at all ….

  • Matt Pelc

    I agree. Tigers’ fans have tended to take Jhonny for granted while he has been here, but he’s been the team’s best all-around SS since Trammell retired. I know MLB and the sports media tell us we are all supposed to brand him a “cheater,” and hate him now, but I can’t and won’t do it. Seems like he just made a mistake.

    • John Verburg

      These guys know what they are putting into their body. This isn’t a mistake. It’s funny how Tigers fans stance on steroids softens when one of their own is involved. Bottom line, if he is guilty, which it looks like things are pointing towards, I hope the Tigers do the right thing and DFA him instead of hoping he can come back for the playoffs. I’m with Max Scherzer, time to get this crap out of the game we love.

      • http://tomaroonandgold.blogspot.com Matt Snyder

        I don’t know. If he’s served his suspension and is eligible to play, why cut him just to be high and mighty?

        • John Verburg

          It’s not to be “high and mighty”. If I’m the Tigers, I don’t want a guy that is associated with PED’s on my team, potentially tarnishing a World Series win. Suppose Jhonny Peralta plays a significant role in a World Series win? You don’t think his being tied to this mess isn’t going to be brought up? Granted, the WS win will still stand, but the Tigers made a trade for a new SS who doesn’t have the baggage.

          Plus, there are guys in that locker room that can’t stand other players who do this stuff. That may not come out against Peralta publicly, but it is still an issue.

          I just don’t think the Tigers gain anything by keeping him. It would be one thing if he was signed for several more years and the Tigers were going to have to pay him anyway, but he isn’t.

          I think the Tigers should follow the Giants example from last year with Melky Cabrera and just move on.

          • tune-in for baseball

            If they DFA Jhonny, Don’t you think they should wait till Sept 1st so a playoff team would not be allowed to have him for the playoffs??

            On another item-If in fact they wait till Monday to make announcements, I think MLB really is putting players and teams that will have to travel Sunday to their Monday game location in uncomfortable positions and expense. They will have to travel Sunday to their Monday game location only to have a teammate pack up and fly home. So who pays for the trip home-player or team??

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  • Tony Fischer

    That WAS a good trade. It was a move that solidified the shortstop position and was worth the price. However Peralta’s legacy as a Tiger will be tainted by the position he has put the Tigers in by taking PED’s. We were forced to trade a high value prospect to a division rival in order to fill a hole that should not have existed in the first place. Tigers fans will be reminded of that every time Avisail Garcia comes to the plate in a White Sox uniform. I would love nothing more than to jump on the Peralta love bus but the true cost of this scandal to the Detroit Tigers has not yet been realized.