A press release hit at about ten minutes until 5 p.m. CST today about a “major announcement” regarding a Royals player’s contract.
Early speculation focused on Alex Gordon. He’s been the subject of extension discussions all offseason and guesses started flying about the length and amount of money in the deal. Later, though, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports confirmed that it wasn’t Gordon.
The next idea was Eric Hosmer. A major announcement? That’s a major announcement indeed, but alas, that was debunked as well.
As 5:30 approached, speculation continued, then it came out via Twitter that Salvador Perez was walking into the room.
The deal is announced as a five year deal with three option years for the Royals. Bob Dutton tweeted that it’s $7 million over five years, and from there, it’s all up to the Royals to exercise the options. That’s an elite defensive catcher locked up through 2019. The option year dollars make the total deal no more than $26.75 million over the eight year span.
This is a fantastic deal for the Royals. It’s a nice deal for Perez too.
Some question the idea of signing a 21-year-old catcher with two months of experience to a long-term deal, but consider the risk. With five years at $7 million dollars tied to the initial part of the deal, he’s probably going to cost the Royals less over that period than he would have in arbitration. The Royals invest $1.4 million a year on him. Considering they dropped better than $3 million last year for Jason Kendall to cheer from the bench all year, I’d say having Perez is a luxury now.
Perez can be an elite catcher but if he somehow fails, the Royals are only out that initial investment. They simply don’t exercise the options. They incur no risk at all that wouldn’t have been there by going through the typical year-to-year. The bonus is that they show other young players that they’re willing to make a commitment.
Kevin Goldstein called Perez “nails” on the Royalman Report last November, and while he doesn’t expect him to hit .300 every year, he expects him to be good:
“That guy I just described to you is nails. That’s a great player. A plus defensive catcher that hits .280 with 12-15 homeruns? That’s a monster.”
When Perez debuted last August, Joel Goldberg relayed quotes from Ned Yost, a former catcher himself:
“Glove to glove, Yost has said he’s never seen a catcher in the 1.8s and Perez is in the 1.8s. Guys like Bench do that, Guys like Pudge do that. John Gibbons said he’s been ready to catch in the big leagues since he was 19.”
The 1.8 there refers to the time it takes Perez to pop up and get a throw to second. That’s a great time and on that same night that Perez debuted, he picked off Casey Kotchman at first base from his knees, nearly nailed Matt Joyce at second and did pick off Sam Fuld at third.
By all accounts, the young pitchers in the Royals organization love throwing to Perez and during his debut, Goldberg quoted Louis Coleman as saying that Perez is strong enough to keep his glove framed rather than letting the momentum of the pitch carry it out of the zone. Those little things get noticed.
After the deal was announced, Passan tweeted that the Royals won by getting three option years. Royals pitcher Everett Teaford approved as well. Rany Jazayerli acknowledged the risk but, in comparing it to an extension by another Royal (which has been deemed team-friendly and favorable), the Perez extension looks even better.
Perez is in a rare class of catchers who have reached 100 plate appearances at 21 years or younger, according to Rob Neyer. Some names on that list include Joe Mauer, Ivan Rodriguez and Brian McCann. If Sal can approach those levels, the Royals will have made a solid investment. Dayton Moore has said great teams are strong up the middle, and Perez is the first piece of that puzzle.