Mets Cut Pitcher Oliver Perez, Absorbing $12 Million Salary

The New York Mets cut pitcher Oliver Perez, swallowing the former 15-game winner’s $12 million salary for the 2011 season.

Perez’s release was confirmed in an e-mail from Jay Horwitz, a spokesman for the Mets.

Perez, 29, had a combined 3-9 record over the past two seasons since signing a three-year, $36 million contract in February 2009. Coupled with last week’s release of second-baseman Luis Castillo, who had $6 million left on his contract, the Mets will be paying $18 million to two players who won’t be on their roster.

Perez had season-ending knee surgery in August 2009 after posting a 3-4 record with a 6.82 earned run average in 14 starts, missing most of May and June because of the injured knee. He had an 8.38 earned run average over 9 2/3 innings in spring training.

He returned last season and went 0-3 in seven starts before losing his place in the rotation. He was later placed on the 15-day disabled list with tendonitis in his right knee, missing June and much of July. Perez ended the season with a 0-5 record and a 6.80 ERA.

For his nine-year career with the Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates and San Diego Padres, Perez has a 58-69 record and a 4.63 earned run average. He was 29-29 in New York, with his best season coming in 2007, when he went 15-10 with a 3.56 ERA.

The $18 million hit to the Mets’ payroll from payments owed to Perez and Castillo comes as the team has said it is reining in costs. The Wilpon family is trying to keep control of the franchise while fighting a lawsuit tied to the Ponzi scheme created by Bernard L. Madoff.

Trustee Irving Picard wants to recover as much as $1 billion in principal and alleged phony profits made by Sterling Equities Inc., which owns the Mets. Fred Wilpon in January said he is looking to sell up to 25 percent of the franchise to raise money.

Wilpon and another owner, Saul Katz, said in a news release yesterday that Picard’s allegations weren’t true.

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