When James Shields left the Kansas City Royals in free agency, the biggest question was not in terms of how the Royals would replace his production, but how they would replace his leadership. With the acquisition of Shields, the culture around the Royals seemingly changed overnight, as they went from a team with potential to a legitimate playoff contender.
However, his departure leaves a definite leadership void on the Royals. While the Royals now have playoff experience and the knowledge that they truly belong among the elite in baseball, they need someone to step into that role formerly filled by Shields. While he may not be a member of the pitching staff, Salvador Perez would be the best option.
We already know of the value that Perez brings on the field. He is a two time Gold Glove winner and has been an All-Star in each of the last two seasons. Despite the assorted bumps and bruises associated with the catcher position, Perez has been remarkably durable, playing in an impressive 150 games last season. Add in his career .285/.315/.433 batting line with 44 home runs, and it is easy to see why Perez may be among the most valuable members of the Royals.
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However, the value that Salvador Perez provides goes far beyond the statistics. He is also one of the cornerstones that the Royals are looking to build upon, under team control through the 2019 season if the Royals pick up his options. It is no surprise that he began to display some of those leadership tendencies last season, taking charge of the pitching staff and heading out to the mound of his own accord when he felt the pitcher looked shaky.
Salvador Perez also appears to be a leader in the locker room as well. Just look at his antics with Lorenzo Cain, as their goofing around can help keep the Royals loose. That looseness, along with the Royals beginning to believe in themselves, was a large part of their run through the playoffs last season.
Given the leadership that Perez has already displayed for the Royals, and how he appeared to be comfortable in taking on more of a leadership role last season, it stands to reason that he could develop into the next leader in Kansas City. With Alex Gordon in the last guaranteed year of his contract, and veterans like Billy Butler and Shields having departed, Perez is the logical choice to become the next true leader of the Royals.
For all of the concern in regards to a potential leadership void on the Kansas City Royals, it seems that we may have been staring right into the smiling face of the answer. Salvador Perez is the perfect person to take over as the leader of the Royals.