Death. Taxes. Salvador Perez playing virtually every day for the Kansas City Royals. Some things are inevitable in life, and the latest extension for Perez will not lead to any changes.
It is a rarity when Salvador Perez is not in the Kansas City Royals lineup. In the past three seasons, Perez has appeared in 422 games behind the plate, easily outpacing Jonathan Lucroy and Yadier Molina as a workhorse among backstops. Taking a day off just does not appear to be a part of his vocabulary.
Yet, with his recently signed long term extension, there was some hope that the Royals catcher could get some added time off. With their commitment now lasting through the 2021 season, it would seemingly behoove the Royals to give Perez more than twenty days off during the season, making sure that he does not wear down each year, or break down towards the end of his contract.
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Well, according to Ned Yost, that is not going to be the case. He plans on giving Perez the same workload as last season, again relegating whoever ends up as the Royals backup catcher to an almost permanent seat on the bench. Is that the right plan of attack?
While it is understandable that the allure of having Perez’ Gold Glove calibre defense and rocket arm makes it difficult to give him a day off, there is no arguing the overall decline in production over the past few seasons. While Perez has seen his power increase, his OPS+ has dropped from 128 in his rookie season to 89 last year.
His splits over the past two years also show the signs of his wearing down. After a stellar first half in 2014, where Perez produced a .283/.329/.437 batting line with eleven home runs, he hit at a .229/.236/.360 rate with six home runs and only three walks in the second half. Last year, Perez hit at roughly the same level, but his power decreased, with fifteen first half home runs, compared to six in the second half of the season.
At this point, it is difficult to criticize Yost and the coaching staff, given their run of success. Yet, their insistence at putting Perez into the lineup every day is a blind spot. At some point, the Royals will need to upgrade the backup catcher position, providing an adequate replacement to keep Perez from logging the same workload year after year until his body begins to wear down.
This season, when tuning in to a Kansas City Royals game, one can expect to see Salvador Perez in the lineup. Hopefully, in the next few years, Ned Yost and the Royals will be able to find a way to protect their investment.