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.