The curious case of Neifi Perez and the KC Royals

Baseball is full of trades that leave fans fuming. One particular deal from 2001 still brings nightmares to KC Royals’ fans.

Jermaine Dye was on a tear for the KC Royals.  He blasted 27 and 33 home runs in 1999 and 2000, respectively, and had driven in a combined 237 runs.  The new millennium proved extra fruitful with a .321/.390/.561 slash, an All-Star appearance, and Gold Glove award.

While 2001 saw a decline, he was still a valuable piece of the team.  Perhaps the first 97 games lowered his trade leverage but to say the return the Royals received of Neifi Perez was a disappointment is a huge understatement.

Dye went on to finish the year raising his OPS+ by 47 points when he went to Oakland.  He would go on to hit another 215 bombs, finish fifth in MVP one year, and terrorized the Royals for five seasons as a member of the division rival Chicago White Sox.

Other than winning a Gold Glove in 2000, Perez brought little hope to Kansas City fans.  His OPS+ high was his rookie year and that was only 86 back in 1997.  As a Royal in 194 games, his combined OPS+ was 94.

It is possible Perez felt unwanted in Kansas City from the moment he arrived as the fans were frustrated in the lack of value in return for Dye.  Instead of trying to prove his worth, Perez appeared to pour gasoline on the fire.

In his first – and only- spring training on the team he admitted to being two years older than he previously stated.  Late in the lost season of 2002, he refused to enter the game.  Of course, he claimed he was only joking.

“I told him, No, Tony, I’m not going to play shortstop.’ But I was just playing,” Perez said Tuesday. “When Tony Pena turned around and said, `OK, you’re not going to play? That’s fine.’ – the intelligencer.com

That offseason Perez was waived and the year and a half of suffering was over.  This deal also seemed to be the beginning of the end of Allard Baird as general manager.  The next season saw Angel Berroa take over at short and the team had their first winning season in almost a decade.  Coincidence?

Next: 15 years of KC Royals futility

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You can argue whether Royals fans gave Perez a fair chance but it was obviously a trade that should not have been made.  Dye could have provided a far better return than a player who never seemed to want to be in Kansas City.