Members of the Olmecas de Tabasco celebrate a home run during the eighth inning of a game between the Olmecas de Tabasco and the Leones de Yucatan on August 8, 2023 in Villahermosa, Mexico. Tabasco has signed five free agents for the 2024 LMB Season. (Photo by Jam Media/Getty Images)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
Olmecas de Tabasco general manager Julio Franco has been making moves on the free agent market.
The Liga Mexicana de Beisbol organization acquired five free agent professional players – outfielder Felix Perez, right-handed pitcher Hunter Wood,right-handed pitcher Justin Maese, right-handed pitcher David Gutierrez and right-handed pitcher Nick Struck for the 2024 Liga Mexicana de Beisbol regular season, the organization announced on their social media pages and website on November 9.
Wood, 30, was born in Rogers, Arkansas, and played four major league seasons from 2017-21 with the Tampa Bay Rays, Cleveland Indians, and Texas Rangers. In his four MLB seasons, he went 2-2 with a 3.34 ERA in 10 starts and 71 appearances. He threw 91.2 innings allowing 90 hits, 34 earned runs, 12 home runs, 32 walks, and 86 strikeouts including a 1.331 WHIP before he elected free agency on Oct. 9, 2021.
During the 2022 regular season, which was Wood’s last professional active season, he was with the Minnesota Twins organization after he signed a minor league contract on May 24, 2022.
Wood played in eight games with Triple-A St. Paul and recorded a 2.08 ERA, appearing in eight games out of the bullpen and throwing 8.2 innings while allowing two hits, two earned runs, 10 walks, and 10 strikeouts before he landed on the 7-day injured list with a right forearm strain on July 15, 2022. Wood elected free agency on November 10, 2022 and was not signed for the 2023 season.
Perez, 38, was born in Isla de la Juventud, Cuba, and will play in his 18th season in 2024. He has played in Cuba’s Serie Nacional with the Toronjeros de Isla de la Juventud, spent several season in the Cincinnati Reds organization, and has played in Mexico, Venezuela, and Nippon Professional Baseball, appearing in 1,519 career games and hitting .282 with 6,146 plate appearances, 1,515 hits, 298 doubles, 28 triples, 274 home runs, 1,031 RBI, 46 stolen bases, 556 walks, 1,130 strikeouts and a .860 OPS.
This past 2023 season, Perez was an All-Star playing with the LMB’s Toros de Tijuana, playing in 73 games with 331 plate appearances and batting .271 with 75 hits, 16 doubles, 20 home runs, 59 RBI, 47 walks, 48 strikeouts and a .926 OPS.
Perez is currently playing in Liga ARCO Mexicana del Pacífico with Charros de Jalisco. In 26 games with 108 plate appearances, Perez is hitting .186 with 18 hits, one double, seven home runs, 19 RBI, nine walks, and 17 strikeouts.
Struck, 34, was born in Portland, Oregon, and has played in Mexico in both LAMP and LMB since the 2016-17 regular season.
In six seasons in Liga ARCO Mexicana del Pacifico, Struck has posted a 13-12 record with a 3.23 ERA in 81 games, 11 saves, and 34 starts. Struck has thrown 217.2 innings whole allowing 202 hits, 78 earned runs, 13 home runs, 84 walks, 154 strikeouts and a 1.279 WHIP.
Struck began his career in Liga Mexicana de Beisbol in the 2017 season. In 13 seasons as a professional at all levels, Struck has posted a 92-76 record and thrown 1,368.2 innings with a 3.89 ERA in 490 appearances and 198 starts. Struck has allowed 1,394 hits, 592 earned runs, 116 home runs, 513 walks, and struck out 992 batters with a 1.393 WHIP.
Struck is playing his second consecutive season with the Caneros de Los Mochis in 2023-24, and has a 4-2 record with a 3.06 ERA in six starts while throwing 32.1 innings and allowing 28 hits, 11 earned runs, two home runs, 11 walks, 19 strikeouts and a 1.206 WHIP.
Maese, 27, was born in El Paso, Texas, and will play his second season in Liga Mexicana de Beisbol in 2024. Maese was placed on the reserve list for the Toros de Tijuana on July 22, 2023 after he was released by the New York Yankees on May 30, 2023 while assigned to Double-A Somerset. The Toros signed him as a free agent on June 30, 2023 and was activated to the roster on July 29, 2023.
In Double-A Somerset last season, Maese posted a 2-0 record with a 7.04 in 14 games out of the bullpen, throwing 23 innings and allowing 25 hits, 18 earned runs, five home runs, 14 walks, and striking out 26 batters.
During Maese’s short time with the Toros de Tijuana, he only appeared in three games out of the bullpen, throwing 2.1 innings and allowing two hits, one earned run, two walks, and two strikeouts.
In his seven professional seasons including his time in the minor leagues with the Toronto Blue Jays from 2015-21 and the Atlanta Braves in 2022 with Double-A Mississippi, Maese has a 21-16 record with a 4.11 ERA in 141 games, making 35 starts and notching 35 saves. He has thrown 335 innings, allowing 341 hits, 153 earned runs, 23 home runs, 119 walks, and 316 strikeouts alongside a 1.373 WHIP.
Gutierrez, 30, was born in Guamuchil, Mexico, and will be playing in his second consecutive season with Olmecas. This past season with Tabasco, Gutierrez appeared in 32 games out of the bullpen with a 2-3 record and a 3.68 ERA. He threw 29.1 innings allowing 26 hits, 12 earned runs, three home runs, 10 walks, 28 strikeouts, and a 1.227 WHIP.
During the 2023-24 winter league season, Guiterrez is playing with Tomateros de Culiacan, his seventh season with the organization. He is currently 3-1 with a 1.46 ERA in 13 games out of the bullpen. He has thrown 12.1 innings, allowing seven hits, two earned runs, one walk, and 15 strikeouts with a 0.649 WHIP.
Gutierrez has played in nine seasons in both LMB and LAMP and has posted a 23-19 record, a 3.78 ERA in 329 games with only two starts in his career. Guiterrez has thrown 352.2 innings allowing 345 hits, 148 earned runs, 32 home runs, 112 walks, 279 strikeouts and 1.296 WHIP.
According to BeisbolPuro.com, a Mexican baseball news outlet, the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol announced that Opening Day for the 2024 regular season is April 12.
The LMB’s Invernal League, which started on October 12, will play the last day of their regular season on November 26. The 2023 LMB Invernal Mexicana’s games are played from Thursday through Sunday.