One of their greatest players just received the biggest KC Royals deal ever.
The KC Royals recently rewarded Hunter Dozier, a versatile young player with one excellent major league season, with a four-year contract reportedly worth at least $25 million. The deal came amid the continuing, seemingly endless, chatter and conjecture about possible early extensions for Adalberto Mondesi and Brad Keller, and maybe more.
Little, however, has been heard about making sure Salvador Perez, the leader and undisputed backbone of the team, its heart and soul, and the best catcher in franchise history, doesn’t go anywhere when his current contract expires after this season.
Not to worry.
The Royals took care of business Sunday, announcing a contract extension that may well wrap up Perez for what may be the rest of his career. Team and player have reportedly agreed to the biggest contract in franchise history, what The Athletic’s KC beat writer Alec Lewis describes as a minimum four-year deal beginning in 2022 worth at least $82 million:
If the numbers are accurate, the pact is worth $10 million more than the contract Alex Gordon signed after the 2015 season.
Some may believe $82 million is too pricey for a catcher just two years removed from the UCL injury that cost him to miss an entire season, especially one who’ll turn 31 in May and spares himself none of the wear and tear of the most physically-demanding position on the diamond.
But that contention ignores Perez’s overall value to the KC Royals, a commodity impossible to measure by statistics or money alone.
That $82 million is well deserved. There are those who might argue it isn’t, all things considered, enough.
Perez is, if his spectacular 2020 performance is any indication (and it is), still the superb player he was before injuring his throwing elbow during spring training in 2019. Although a positive COVID-19 test and a vision issue limited him to 37 of the Royals’ 60 games, he still slugged 11 home runs, drove in 32, and slashed .333/.353/.633. His throwing arm was no worse for the wear of Tommy John surgery.
Just as importantly, last season represented Perez’s full-time return to the clubhouse and dugout, two places where his presence and leadership may be unparalleled among contemporary Royals. He is to this team what George Brett was to his during his historic career—a leader and clutch performer, a player expected to deliver when it counts. Someone to look up to.
Perez is a Royal favorite, deservedly cherished by the club, his teammates, and the fans. The flashing of his famous smile is a Kansas City staple, the victory Splash that carries his name a ritual fans stay after games to see.
The Royals wouldn’t be the Royals without Salvador Perez. Sunday’s extension was a deal the Royals needed to do before it was too late.
Now, it’s done. The future club Hall of Famer and the Royals can embark upon what can be their best season in several years free from the distractions and trappings of contract negotiations. Both are secure knowing that the popular player who’s won five Gold Gloves, three Silver Sluggers, and six All-Star game berths will get at least four more years in Kansas City to add to that list of accolades.
Salvador Perez was already Royalty in Kansas City. Sunday, the KC Royals gave him a deal worthy of that status.