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Brewers claim Hernan Perez from Tigers; designate Elian Herrera for assignment

Perez is a strong defensive infielder, but hasn't shown any ability to hit major league pitching over his career thus far.

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Brewers made a bit of a surprise move on Tuesday, claiming utility infielder Hernan Perez off waivers from the Detroit Tigers. To create a roster spot for him, Elian Herrera has been designated for assignment.

Perez is still just 24 years old and has played parts of four different major league seasons. In 66 games in the majors, he has a .160/.189/.179 batting line with a pair of stolen bases and one extra base hit. This year, he has gone 2-33 with one steal, one walk and one run scored.

After a few poor-hitting years in the majors, Perez broke out a bit in 2013 when he hit .301/.330/.410 in 103 games between Double- and Triple-A. That earned him a C+ rating as the 12th-best prospect in the Tigers system according to John Sickels of Minor League Ball. Of Perez, Sickels noted:

Suddenly hit for average last year in the high minors though not in Detroit. For me he profiles as a utilityman with a solid glove and occasional periods of respectable hitting, though some people like him a lot better than that.

He followed that up with a .287/.331/.404 line in 2014. Sickels bumped him up to the 10th-best prospect in the Tigers organization, saying:

Age 23, hit .287/.331/.404 with 21 steals for Toledo. :Lacks power but has some speed, very solid defensive player up the middle, could be fine reserve infielder although additional offensive growth could move him beyond that.

In a way, it seems Perez profiles very similarly to Luis Sardinas, who was acquired in the Yovani Gallardo trade and called up a few weeks ago. Both are defense-first players who primarily play shortstop and second base but have seen limited action at third. Neither has been the strongest hitter in their careers. Neither has any power to speak of. Both have good speed and have stolen 20-30 bases in the minors. Sardinas is a bit younger and has been more highly-regarded but it's easy to see similarities.

It wouldn't be surprising if the Brewers made an additional move to help balance the roster soon. Herrera had been the fourth-outfielder on the team since Khris Davis went to the DL and bumped Gerardo Parra into a starting role. Now, the best guess is Jason Rogers would fill the fourth-outfielder role if needed.

Logan Schafer and Shane Peterson are the only two outfielders on the 40-man that are not already on the active roster. Schafer is probably the better defensive player and has much more major league experience, but Peterson has been hitting .320/.387/.523 in the minors for Triple-A Colorado Springs.

The Brewers have said their roster would be more fluid until they learned what Will Smith's eventual punishment will be for having an illegal substance on his arm against the Braves. He had an appeal for his eight-game suspension Monday and will likely hear a final verdict later this week.