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Reactions to the Salvador Pérez contract

Salvy stays in Royal blue.

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Kansas City Royals v Oakland Athletics Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

The Royals have inked Salvador Pérez to a four-year $82 million contract extension with a $13.5 million club option. The deal will ensure Salvy does not free agency following this season, and it keeps him in Kansas City through at least 2025.

The contract comes off a career season for Salvy, in which he hit .333/.353/.633 with 11 home runs in 37 games, earning the Silver Slugger Award. However it comes with a fair amount of risk, guaranteeing a catcher going into his 30s the most money in club history. Here is a collection of reactions to the signing.

Alec Lewis writes about why the Royals gave Salvador Pérez the biggest deal in club history.

Perez had Tommy John surgery in the spring of 2019, and some will point to the recency of that surgery when questioning this deal. That is understandable, but he bounced back from it in 2020 with a 161 OPS+ after working in the offseason with Royals special assignment hitting coach Mike Tosar. There’s also this: The Royals have a boatload of young pitchers who will need guidance as they enter the big leagues. Who better to lead them than a veteran catcher? Not to mention, a fan favorite.

This is why the Royals brass had dinner on that January night and why Sherman signed off on the hefty contract.

Anne Rogers writes that owner John Sherman is a big Salvy supporter.

Moore said that in January, he went to Florida with Perez, Sherman, assistant general manager Rene Francisco, manager Mike Matheny and bench coach Pedro Grifol — who has been instrumental in Perez’s catching career — to start the contract extension talks.

“John has been extremely supportive, and he’s a great admirer of Salvy,” Moore said. “It was important for us all to come together and talk about this potentiality, hopefully getting to this point in time in the process, because John’s a big believer in Salvador Perez.”

Salvy made sure to thank those that helped him along the way.

This may not even be Salvy’s last deal.

Sam Mellinger concedes the contract probably doesn’t make financial sense, but that’s okay with the Royals.

Since 2000, only seven primary catchers have more than one season with an OPS+ above league average beyond the age of 31. Only three have done it more than twice. The Royals just committed to paying Perez an average of more than $20 million through age 35, and they can’t even be sure he’ll be their catcher that long.

In other words, this is an investment the Royals are unlikely to get a positive return on when the numbers are run.

It’s also exactly the kind of investment that’s made them them, and if Sherman continues a willingness to spend above his club’s weight class then the financial hit will be diminished and the value Perez brings can be more appreciated.

Andy McCullough writes that the contract says a lot about John Sherman and Dayton Moore.

The Royals did not have to do this. Pérez’s body could break down. His offensive production in 2020 might be a short-season mirage. Folks in Kansas City may wonder why the team decided to do this. Moore will know why. He thought it was the right decision for his organization and for his organization’s most decorated player.

“We all know why everybody has believed in you all these years,” Moore told Pérez on Sunday over Zoom. “Because you’ve earned it. People love being around you. They pull for you. It’s special that we get a chance to keep you here.”

Ben Clemens at Fangraphs thinks of the deal as a lifetime achievement award.

I’ll be honest with you: The numbers don’t quite justify his extension. If you agree with the projection robots, the Royals are overpaying a little bit. In fact, it echoes Molina’s previous contract, a four-year extension from 2017 to ’20. That, too, felt like a slight overpay at the time, and it worked out similarly to how we project Perez’s contract.

It’s no coincidence that these two iconic single-team catchers get compared frequently. I’m as guilty of it as anyone else. They’re different players: Molina has never displayed Perez’s power, and Perez falls short at receiving. Molina also received that contract after catching roughly 600 more games than Perez has to date; he was 34, and he’s also missed less time in his career.

It isn’t wrong, though, to think of both deals as partially lifetime achievement awards. The Royals get more value out of Perez than strictly what he adds on the field, imperfect as our measurement of that might be. The fans love him. The team loves him. Ownership loves him. It would be asinine to pretend that none of that has any monetary value whatsoever.

Craig Brown at Into the Fountains writes that extensions for catchers at this age usually aren’t a good deal, but this is what you do with a franchise icon.

The Royals have recently been cautious about their long-term deals, providing some wiggle room on the back, so it’s a bit of a surprise that Perez’s new deal increases in value from ’22 to ’23 and again in 2025. While catcher aging curves may not diverge all that much from other position players, we can expect a decline in production, especially as we near the end of the contract. The Royals don’t appear to be taking that into consideration here.

However, this extension can also be viewed through the prism of Perez’s earlier extensions, particularly the one he signed after making his major league debut in 2011. That was a contract that had the potential for the club to buy out his first two years of free agency at a total of $26.75 million over what could’ve been eight years. That would have been a $3.34 million AAV. That was heavily skewed to the team’s favor.

David Lesky at Inside the Crown thinks the amount is a bit high for a catcher, but the deal is still worth doing.

In the big picture, though, he isn’t blocking anyone and he is still playing at a high level. They have additional television revenue and should have an inexpensive core of pitchers coming through over the next few years.

As long as this deal doesn’t stop them from doing anything else they need, I can both like that they signed the player without liking the deal. It shows me that John Sherman and this ownership group are willing to shell out some money, which they’re going to need to do if some of these pitchers and guys like Bobby Witt, Jr. (and others) pan out the way they hope.

Clint Scoles at Royals Academy is wary of the deal.

My issues with deal are the same as they have always been with Perez, the durability isn’t there to justify this. As I wrote earlier, it can be justified around Molina but not really. Yadier gave the Cardinal incredible durability from 30-34, averaging 133 games per season and hitting the IL just a couple of times. Perez has averaged that number from 25-28 but missed the entire ‘19 season and the start of 2020. He has found himself on the IL each of the last four seasons. To me, it appears the Royals are buying all of the ‘20 results of 37 games from a player who has a career OPS 50 points lower in the 2nd half.

Kevin O’Brien at Royals Reporter has three takeaways from the Salvy deal.

In addition, Salvy has always rated as a strong defensive catcher, with most of his value tied to his arm strength. He currently has five Gold Gloves on his resume, and he has always been well above-average in regard to “caught stealing rate” (including 48 percent marks in 2018 and 2016, which ranked in the top percentiles of the league). However, he has struggled with framing, but the Royals have always been able to complement Salvy with a backup catcher who has been a stronger framer, even if they offer less offensive and arm upside (more on this later).

Therefore, the Royal have specific needs of Salvy over the next five years: simply be a power-hitting catcher with a great arm who can provide valuable leadership behind the plate and in the clubhouse. Now, is that worth $20 million a year? Maybe…maybe not.

Mike Gillespie at Kings of Kauffman thinks the contract is well deserved.

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.

Other reactions:

The fans are happy.

And Salvy is glad to be here.


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