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Royals trade candidate: Salvador Perez

Would the Royals really trade the face of the franchise?

Kansas City Royals v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Let me preface this by saying I think there is less than a five percent chance Salvador Perez is traded. There are so many obstacles - his salary, his approval of a trade required, and the impact it would have on the fanbase. But there has been so much discussion of a potential Salvy trade this summer, we have to at least consider the possibility.

Earlier this summer, J.J. Picollo said the Royals had no intention of trading the Royals franchise catcher. But he didn’t appear to close the door all the way on the idea.

“We have no intention of trading Salvy. It’s not something we’re looking to do. But it doesn’t mean that teams won’t ask about him. I can confirm that report was accurate, a team called and asked about him.”

Any trade would require Salvy to sign off the deal, as he has 10-5 rights that allow him to block any trade. Picollo said as much earlier this summer.

“He completely controls the destiny. He’s told us over and over again, he wants to be a Royal his whole career.”

But as the losses pile up for the Royals, Salvy may find himself looking to get back into another pennant race with a shot of getting a second ring. If the right deal came along, could he agree to a trade?

Salvador Perez is a future Royals Hall of Fame who could potentially one day have his #13 retired at Kauffman Stadium. He is an eight-time All-Star, a five-time Gold Glover, a four-time Silver Slugger winner, a home run champ, and a World Series MVP. He has the 14th-most home runs at the catcher position and will likely receive serious consideration for the Baseball Hall of Fame after his career is over.

Salvador Perez is also 33 years old and in the decline phase of his career. The decline has been gradual, and Salvy is still capable of spikes in his performance. But he has been in a bad slump over the last month, hitting .155/.231/.211 over his last 20 games. His wRC+ is down to 90, which ranks 18th out of the 29 catchers in baseball with at least 200 plate appearances.

But he can still hit for power and as someone with experience in two World Series, he has the veteran presence a contender would covet, particularly a club with a younger team. The Marlins have a .551 OPS from their catchers this year, and could use a power-hitting catcher to handle their young pitching staff. Austin Nola has been a huge disappointment for the Padres, leading to his demotion and opening a spot behind the plate. The Yankees are without Jose Trevino for the rest of the season and could use more production from that position - Rex Hudler once imagined what Salvy would look like in pinstripes!

Any such trade would probably require the Royals to eat some of the money owed to Salvy. He is being paid $20 million this year and next, $22 million in 2025, with a $13.5 million club option in 2026 that requires a $2 million buyout. It would be a bit of an awkward situation for the Royals to be paying their franchise player to play for another team, but the money is a sunk cost, and as a purely baseball move, it makes sense. Under John Sherman the Royals did cut ties with Hunter Dozier, eating about $16 million, so perhaps ownership is more willing to “eat” money in the right situation than the Royals have been in the past.

Assessing Salvy’s trade value is very difficult for a number of reasons. First, his contract gives him negative value, but depending on how much the Royals eat, he could have positive value. Second, while Salvy hits for good power and has great intangibles, he has a very low on-base percentage, and is a poor pitch-framer (although he has improved) - things that many competitive teams value, but some teams may differ in how important they value those traits.

Third, catchers don’t get moved that much mid-season because frankly there aren’t that many impact catchers, particularly at Salvy’s age. In 2016, the Brewers sent All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy to the Rangers along with reliever Jeremy Jeffress for outfielder Lewis Brinson and pitcher Luis Ortiz, both top 100 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline (outfielder Ryan Cordell was also in the deal). But Lucroy was a bit younger than Salvy - 30 years old at the time - in the middle of a better offensive season, with a much more manageable contract.

In the off-season after the 2014 season, the Diamondbacks dealt All-Star catcher Miguel Montero to the Cubs with $40 million left on his deal. It was a salary dump for Arizona, and all they got back for the then-30-year-old catcher were minor league pitchers Francisco Mejia and Zack Godley, two pitchers that projected to be back-of-the-rotation pitchers, neither of which were ranked in the top ten prospects for the Cubs.

So I’m not sure that gives us much guidance for Salvy’s trade value. In the end, it probably won’t matter, as a deal seems pretty far-fetched. I do think the Royals are listening and open to a trade if Salvy agrees to it. But they would likely have to be overwhelmed, and I am skeptical other teams will offer enough to overwhelm them. The most likely scenario is that Salvy plays out his days in a Royals uniform, and that’s a scenario many fans would probably prefer anyway.