Salvador Perez signed an extension with the Royals today, covering his years under Royals control and essentially giving the Royals an opportunity to keep him in that beautiful blue through 2019, when he’ll turn just 29 in May. This is a great contract for a player that Royals pitchers love throwing to and that can be an admirable player and good face for the organization in the coming years.
But how do we know he’ll be worth the money? After all, he just had 158 plate appearances last season. But that .331/.361/.473 line is sure fun to dream about. While Sal will likely never match that over a full season, something around a .270-.280 batting average while keeping his OBP around .330 and slugging percentage close to or better than .450 will still be great for a defensive powerhouse behind the plate. For a team that’s been undergoing a string of catchers that stay for a few years at most, keeping Perez for eight years longer will be a blessing. Especially as he goes into his prime years of production.
Back to the question. Just how do we know this is a good deal? Well, for one, the money is totally reasonable for almost any major league regular. Even beyond that, a quick comparison for Perez lies right across the state. Look over to Yadier Molina for an idea of importance to the team. The youngest of the Molinas three, Yadier came into the majors in 2004 at age 21. He hit .267/.329/.356 in 151 plate appearances that first season and has been a club fixture ever since. Some may scoff at that given his contract situation as of late, with Perez’ contract likely serving to make Yadier’s seem that much more overpriced, but his central placement in the team’s structure is important to note (for reasons discussed further down in this post). He’s just been a big part of the Cardinals franchise for years, and is entering his eighth year with the team.
It’s hard to accurately predict a player. The projection systems I’ve seen sit at about .280/.315/.415, on average, for the 2012 season. That’s not a bad line, especially for a catcher. Kevin Goldstein predicted Sal could be a .280 hitter with 12-15 jacks each season, and said that that sort of line would be stellar for such a solid defensive catcher. All we know is that Sal is capable of hitting and able to slug. Bigger concerns arise about his size and potential to put on weight toward becoming the fourth Molina, but I’m sure the Royals will keep on him to stay trim as he ages. As long as his knees, shoulders, and back hold up, he should be fine. Since he’s only 21, he’s got a long way to go before we should worry about those problems.
So, we’re looking at a great deal for a great guy. It’s a cheap deal, after all. But Sal wants to be in Kansas City and we want to keep him here. It works for everyone.
Well, it’ll hopefully work for the rest of the guys, too.
I see this as a sign of faith and of commitment. I just watched my Nashville Predators go through a fairly busy trade deadline in order to convince a couple guys that they’re committed to winning. They’re trying to prove that they’re always ready to jump into trade scrums when the outlook could be worth it. And that’s sort of what’s going on here.
Sal is a beloved guy. All the pitchers speak of him like the lord of home plate. The young batters effusively praise his character and skills. Everyone seems to love the guy. For a team that’s looking to anchor several of its best young players for many years, this is a sign that the team is ready to hold them down. Sal wanted to be here and wants to be able to support his family, so he signed. You have a core for a young team. Now you’re able to extend contracts to players around him, or try to use that as a way to show that you want to keep everyone together for years, even if it means buying out their arbitration years. They extended Sal after just 158 plate appearances, showing extreme faith in his ability and importance to the team. That should send a signal to the rest of the guys.
The Royals want to keep their core. They want Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Danny Duffy, and all the others to stick around. And they have to start showing the commitment to winning and keeping those guys with the club. This moves waves that banner in the form of a guy everyone loves, does so at a cheap rate, and keeps the team with a solid catcher for eight years. It’s a good move all around.
The dominoes should start falling in the future, though Scott Boras may be pushing to get more money for his clients by having them play another season or two before exploring contracts. Still, the Royals have set the wheel in motion.
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