Salvador Perez has been injured in the last two spring trainings and it would be wise for the Kansas City Royals catcher to consider switching positions.
It was about this time in Joe Mauer‘s career that he started to transition out of the full-time catcher role and into the everyday first baseman gig. Mauer dealt with a knee injury and concussion problems and in order to prolong his health and career, the Minnesota Twins moved him to first base prior to the 2014 season. The Kansas City Royals should consider doing something for Salvador Perez.
Perez, 29, missed the first month of the 2018 season with a knee injury that occurred at the end of Spring Training and has missed all of the 2019 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in March. He actually started 2 games at first base last season and saw his lowest number of innings behind home plate since the 2012 season.
Once Mauer transitioned to first base, he played in a career-high 158 games during the 2015 season. His production was back, certainly not from earlier in his career, and he was able to finish his career on his own terms at the end of the 2018 season.
With Perez coming back from Tommy John surgery, there is a big unknown right now in how that will impact his arm strength and throwing out runners could be a problem. The transition to first base would eliminate essentially all throwing while preserving his knees as well. The position could certainly use stability as well.
Neither Ryan O’Hearn or Ryan McBroom are looking like they want to lock down the position. O’Hearn, 26, put together a nice two-week stretch from the end of August but is batting just 0.150 over his last 7 games and 0.200 over his last 15 games. Perez, at first base, could still be a valuable resource for the young catchers on this squad, providing advice and assistance where needed.
The Royals have several catchers in the farm system behind both Nick Dini and Meibrys Viloria in Cam Gallagher, MJ Melendez, and Michael Emodi. Gallagher has played in 45 games this season but has left a lot to be desired. Melendez struggled mightily with High-A Wilmington this year but put together a strong postseason. And Emodi is still getting his feet wet in Idaho Falls, slashing 0.331/0.410/0.663 with 18 doubles, 2 triples, 12 home runs, and 45 RBI’s in 48 games this year.
Perez is under contract through the 2021 season and the Royals will certainly need him in the everyday lineup, especially as some of these prospects starting making their big league debuts and filling out the rest of the roster. He’ll still be just 31 when his contract expires and if he can shore up the first base position, it would make a lot of sense to bring him back assuming the price is within reason.