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If you're the Royals backup catcher, don't expect to stay for long

Kansas City has utilized a revolving door of catchers since Salvador arrived.

Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Salvador Perez, household name.

Adam Moore, decidedly not a household name.

Ever since Perez burst onto the scene in August of 2011, the Royals have exemplified exceptional stability at the catcher position. Over the last five seasons, despite suffering a major knee injury and multiple concussions, Perez has played in 545 regular season games. In the previous five-year span, from 2006 to 2010, the catcher with the most games played was John Buck, at 395.

There is definitely concern about how many games Mr. Perez is playing in. One way to alleviate that is to have a good backup catcher, one who you don't feel bad about sticking in the lineup that day. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, the Royals have laughed at that idea and have done the exact opposite, like that annoying teenager whose views on anything are just the inverse of whatever his father likes at that moment in time.

This spring, there is a battle, or more like a polite scuffle, for the backup catching position between Tony Cruz and Drew Butera. Both are terrible. But it's a thing that has to be done, otherwise Mike Moustakas will be the backup catcher and nevermind that sounds amazing can we do that now please, Dayton? You can even have an additional bullpen guy like you always wanted.

It's probably worth looking back and seeing what the Royals have decided to do with the 25th man. If anything, what they decide will be important, as it could mean accidentally enshrining that backup in Royals history if he catches the final out of a World Series or something.


Brayan Pena, 72 games; Matt Treanor, 65 games; Manny Pina, 4 games

B. Pena was the last real non-Perez catcher to play regularly for the Royals. He spent four years in Kansas City, logging 264 games. In 2011, he was actually the catcher who played the most games for the Royals, as Perez became the starter in August. Pena was ok, pretty much the definition of 'backup catcher.' Still, his smile was legendary.

Treanor, whose claim to fame is moreso that he married famed Olympian volleyballer Misty May, spent only one more year in the Majors after this season.


Brayan Pena, 68 games; Humberto Quintero, 43 games; Adam Moore, 4 games; Manny Pina, 1 game

Jonathan Sanchez was a disaster, but probably the worst thing he ever did was break Perez' knee in spring training of 2012. Perez missed the first half of 2012. Again, Pena performed decently with no Perez. The Royals also brought in quasi-racist Quintero to fill the void left by Perez, which he did I suppose.

Pina appeared in one game this year, bringing his MLB total to a grandiose five. Pina has never played another MLB game since. Quintero would appear in 49 more games for the Mariners and Phillies, only three of which were in his last official season, 2014.


George Kottaras, 46 games; Brett Hayes, 5 games; Adam Moore, 5 games

This was Perez' first complete, healthy year. He played in many games. Fortunately, for the first time, he had a truly competent backup. Kottaras, for his career, was a league average catcher. That is 'Donald Trump speaking logically and respectfully about foreigners' rare for backups catchers, and only slightly less so for starters. Perez--you know, three-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glover, 2015 World Series MVP Perez--has only been a league average hitter for his career.

Unfortunately, Kottaras must have been a gigantic jerk, just the worst clubhouse presence imaginable. Despite clear competency, Kottaras played for six different teams from 2012-2014: Milwaukee, Oakland, Kansas City, Cleveland, St. Louis, and Toronto. He did not log a single MLB inning last year.

Moore has somehow continued to log a few random games over the last two years, so he has that going for him.


Brett Hayes, 27 games; Erik Kratz, 13 games; Francisco Pena, 1 game

This was a dark year for backup catchers. They played in only 41 combined games. Hayes' wRC+ that year was -7, meaning he hit 107% below league average. That is firm pitcher territory. Therefore, they acquired Kratz, an upgrade over Hayes, but such an upgrade that they decided to play him less than half as many games.


Drew Butera, 45 games; Francisco Pena, 8 games; Erik Kratz; 4 games

The Royals were going to continue this year with Kratz, but then he got injured, they traded for Butera, and then were seduced by Butera's hair and then got rid of Kratz. It's probably worth noting that the Royals signed Kratz at the end of July in 2014 and designated him for assignment in the middle of June in 2015. He played in 17 games for the Royals. That's fewer games than Perez plays in a week.


So, to recap: none of Treanor, Pina, or Quintero were able to play at the MLB level two years after the Royals last employed them. Moore, Hayes, Kratz, and F. Pena still hang around, but as third options that play ~30 games a year at the high end. Only B. Pena has continued his career, carving out a decent niche as a backup. He signed a two-year, $5 million contract with the Cardinals this winter.

After employing all this riff-raff, one would assume that the Royals would get something to protect their investment by not requiring Perez to play every single game, or at least getting somebody who can legitimately hold the fort for a bit should Perez go down with an injury. Indeed, $5 million seemed pretty reasonable to re-acquire Pena in a cash-flooded offseason where reunions were everywhere in Kansas City. Jarrod Saltalamacchia was Salvador Perez-good as recently as 2013, is only 31, and signed for a deal at league minimum with the Detroit Tigers.

But you can read this list. Kansas City does not value their backup catchers. It would not surprise me to see Butera and his glorious mane (and terrible bat) exit the revolving door sometime before August.

Just hope Perez doesn't get hurt.