Salvador Pérez has landed a Royal(s) deal…
The 30-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball catcher has agreed to a four-year extension with the Kansas City Royals worth $82 million, according to ESPN, which makes it the richest deal in Royals history.
The Kansas City Star first reported the financial aspect of Perez’s extension.
The value of the new deal surpasses the four-year, $72 million contract the Royals gave outfielder Alex Gordon in 2016.
Perez’s extension, which begins with the 2022 season, comes after a 2020 season in which the six-time MLB All-Star was named the AL Comeback Player of the Year.
“It’s hard to believe where I’m coming from, where I grew up, to see the situation I have right now, it makes me feel super happy,” Pérez said from the Royals’ spring training home in Surprise, Arizona. “My mother is going to be happy. I know my grandma is going to be happy. I know they’re excited for me to be here for four more years, maybe five.”
“Nobody loves to play baseball more than Salvador Pérez. There are players that like it just as much but nobody loves it more,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. “Nobody can imagine him not being here.”
Pérez, who turns 31 in May, has not only established himself as one of the game’s premier catchers but also one of the most beloved players in Royals history. He was World Series MVP in 2015, when the club broke its 30-year title drought, and is coming off a season in which he hit .333 with 11 homers and 32 RBIs to win his third Silver Slugger.
He also has five Gold Gloves to his name, and the Royals are counting on his ability to bring out the best in their pitchers to help a young and promising starting rotation that they hope will lead them back to the playoffs.
“I mean, the catching position is without a doubt the most demanding position in our game,” Moore said. “It’s hard, I think almost impossible, to win championships unless you have somebody behind the plate, somebody at the catcher position, that’s a leader — that brings out the confidence in your pitching staff. And Salvy does all that.”
Indeed, Pérez also has proven to be durable behind the plate. He appeared in at least 129 games six consecutive seasons, often arguing against getting days off, until missing the entire 2019 season due to Tommy John surgery.
He returned to have one of the best seasons of his career during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
“It’s the same with everybody: You trust your medical people,” Moore said. “Of course we talked about Salvy, but at the end of the day, they all signed off on it because they believe in his work ethic. They believe in the condition of his body. They believe in his heart and mind to play. He puts himself in a position to go out there every single day.”
Pérez also happens to be a personal favorite of John Sherman, the former part-owner of the AL Central rival Cleveland Indians, who leads the ownership group that purchased the Royals from the late David Glass prior to last season.
Sherman called a summit in Florida in January that included Moore, Pérez and several other executives, and it was during that meeting that they began hashing out the framework for the new contract. It wound up getting done just weeks before Opening Day, when the Royals hope to welcome about 10,000 fans back to Kauffman Stadium for each game.
“You know, they believe in me and what I do on the field,” Pérez said, “and all the fans in Kansas City, you know?”
The small-market Royals have long had a reputation for being stingy with contracts, but Pérez’s new deal is the latest sign that Sherman and the new owners are willing to open the checkbook to put a winner on the field.
“I want to stay here,” he said simply. “I want to finish my career here.”