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How can the Royals "fix" Sal Perez's contract?

Sal Perez is unhappy with his contract. What can the two sides do?

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Fix is the operative word of the title of this article. Sal Perez's contract isn't really broken. In fact, it's the opposite of broken from the Royals point of view. It's working perfectly. They are getting an enormous deal on a very good baseball player. This is exactly how contracts are supposed to go from a ball club side of things. You don't want to pay players more money than they are worth, and in fact you want to pay them way, way, less.

On Friday, Sal told Yahoo Sports that he's unhappy with his current deal.

"I don't like to think about that [contract]. But in the back of my head, I start to think about it. Hopefully, they can do something different to me."...

"When I signed my contract, I was 100 percent sure I wanted to sign it," Perez said. "I didn't want to feel like, ‘Why am I doing that?' But I didn't know what kind of player I was going to be like. I hope Kansas City sees what kind of person I am, what kind of player I am, and maybe think about signing me again."

For reference, here is the breakdown of his contract.

Year Age Salary Notes
2012 22 $                                    750,000.00
2013 23 $                                 1,000,000.00
2014 24 $                                 1,500,000.00
2015 25 $                                 1,750,000.00
2016 26 $                                 2,000,000.00
2017 27 $                                 3,750,000.00 Team Option
2018 28 $                                 5,000,000.00 Team Option
2019 29 $                                 6,000,000.00 Team Option
Total $                              21,750,000.00

At the time of course though, Perez didn't know he'd be this good. He was never a top 100 prospect, and never made a top 10 list by Baseball America. He never really ventured too far above a 100 wRC+ in a full season league and was noted for his defense rather than offense. For his career, he has a 103 wRC+. You really can't expect a 100 wRC+ hitter in A+ to put up a similar line in MLB. So you can kind of see why Perez signed his deal. He could guarantee himself $7 million, a figure likely hundreds of times greater than any amount he's probably made or seen. You can't fault Perez for taking the deal just as you can't fault the Royals for offering it. I'd love for them to sign every possible MLB player who could play for Kansas City at a similar deal.

I don't know what his agent does or doesn't know, but a 5 year, $7 million guaranteed contract isn't lucrative. You'd almost have to expect that if Perez were able to reach the full 3-4 years of arbitration, he'd likely make more (maybe twice as much) than that. Astros catcher Jason Castro hasn't necessarily lit the baseball world on fire (he does have one excellent season), but he just agreed to a $4 million settlement this off-season in his fourth year of service time.

Former catcher Francisco Cervelli hasn't played 100 games in a single season for his career and he made about half of Perez's contract ($3.47 million). Hank Conger and his zero golden gloves and 1 win season is making ~60% of what Perez is making this year. Alejandro De Aza has been a roughly average or so player for his career and this year alonehe's making 270% more than Perez in 2015 and ~70% of Perez's guaranteed contract. Okay... you get it. Perez should be making a lot more money.

Year Salary $/WAR Surplus
2011 $   414,000.00 $  9,200,000.00 $          8,786,000.00
2012 $   750,000.00 $ 15,100,000.00 $        14,350,000.00
2013 $   100,000.00 $ 27,400,000.00 $        27,300,000.00
2014 $ 1,500,000.00 $ 23,000,000.00 $        21,500,000.00
2015 $ 1,800,000.00 $  6,300,000.00 $          4,500,000.00
Total $ 4,564,000.00 $ 81,000,000.00 $        76,436,000.00

It's a little more than four years into the deal, the Royals have a 2500% return on their investment. Unequivocally the Royals have won this deal, and will likely continue to win this deal for the remainder of it.

There is no such thing as "goodwill" on a ball clubs balance sheet. They shouldn't give Perez more money because he's been good. Perez certainly wasn't going to give the Royals money back if he was worse than his contract suggests he should be. From the black and white stance, it's easy: don't sign that deal Sal.

So let's say the Royals wanted to "fix" the situation. What they would likely do is ask for more years on Perez's deal, extending team control further. This would of course mean that Perez would want more money now, as he doesn't want more money just later (beyond his current deal). If the Royals only want to pay him more money later by adding on options, he could easily turn down the deal, bet on himself, and go into free agency at after age 27/28/29. The Royals would likely have to renegotiate his current payments (ie increase them) and probably guarantee those club options while adding on either additional years or additional club options (or the Dayton Moore special mutual option).

My feelings of course are that the Royals shouldn't do any of the above. Perez, like every player in baseball, is a lease. Why would you elect to extend your lease further while paying more for it and in turn it has more mileage on it? The Royals shouldn't be wanting to give a player more money. Again, Perez wasn't going to give the Royals money back if he stunk. Loyalty is great, and you want to show your players appreciation (you know...other than paying them guaranteed millions of dollars), but no general manager or owner is going to just pay a player more because they feel bad about a contract (although, I have the distinct feeling that fans will still call David Glass cheap).

From Perez's point of view it could be a win-win if he stays healthy. He'll win if the Royals decide to "fix" the deal as he'll get more money now instead of just later. As far as the amount, I'm not sure and I'm open to suggestions, but you'd imagine Yadier Molina's deal would come up as some sort of a benchmark. Molina and the Cardinals agreed to a five-year $75 million deal in 2012. Surely Perez would jump at those terms if the Royals offered him that in some manner.

Perez will also win if he stays put (again...assuming he stays healthy and good). The Royals will probably pick up all three of his options and Perez will stroll into free agency at age 29. Maybe he gets a deal like Molina's above, although Molina was a year away from free agency when he signed his. Russell Martin just got a 5-year $82M deal in free agency at the age of 32. In free agency, Perez would add an additional 29 other bidders rather than whatever terms the Royals feel comfortable with.

Right now the deal is bad for Perez, but it's not a nightmare scenario or anything. Perez gave away a good deal of money, but he's still set to hit free agency at a reasonable age. As crude as it is to say...Perez shouldn't have signed the deal. How many players have agreed to such a deal? Matt Moore jumps to mind and in his case it seems like Moore is going to "win" his deal. He pitched just 10 innings last year and zero major league innings so far this year, but will make $4M in doing so and is guaranteed another $5 million next year with an additional $4 million in option buyouts. Perez is still a multimillionaire at a young age with expected future earnings of more millions. Sure he'd like more money now, but we'd all like more money now. You think the Diamondbacks are jumping to give Paul Goldschmidt more money? The Brewers are breaking out their nice pens to ink Lucroy to a more expensive deal?

So the Royals should probably just stay put themselves and deal with this in 2019 or 2020. You made out huge on a contract and saved your team potentially tens of millions of dollars. There's no reason to give that money back. Perez is an awesome player, and you feel bad for him (or at least I do), but his situation could be worse. Most importantly, baseball is a business (never forget this) and no other business is looking to pay more for their production. It's not about being cheap. Remember that time the Yankees and their unlimited resources decided to give a player more money than they had to after agreeing to a deal? Neither do I. If Perez feels ill will against the Royals then they can worry about that in 2020 rather than 2015.