Salvador Perez wasted no time endearing himself with the Royals and their fans. Perez and the Royals on Monday agreed to a five-year contract worth a guaranteed $7 million. The deal also includes three club options which could bring the total package to a little more than $26.75 million.
The money and years are perfect for the Royals and carry little-to-no risk for the team. Perez has a tremendous personality and will be an asset to the clubhouse. In addition, he is likely to at least be worth an average of $1.4 million per year if he just stays healthy, and very likely to give the club more value if he continues to develop offensively and defensively.
He was terrific offensively during his call-up, hitting .331 with an OPS of .834. That kind of production should not be expected going forward, but he has the ability to hit for a good average with more than 10 home runs a year. Such production would make him an All-Star caliber catcher with his defensive abilities.
Last year, Perez threw out only 21 percent of attempted basestealers in 39 MLB games, but he has a terrific arm and should see that percentage go up. His career caught-stealing percentage in the minors was a healthy 42 percent.
Perez also picked off three runners, two of which came in his major league debut. In the fourth inning of an August visit to the Tampa Bay Rays, Perez spied Casey Kotchman leaning a bit too far away from first base. Kotchman was picked off. Later in the game, Perez caught Sam Fuld wandering away from third base. Fuld was picked off, too.
Perez nearly picked a Rays player off second base as well, which would have given him the rare feat of a defensive cycle of sorts for catchers, rare especially for a 21-year-old backstop playing in his first big-league game.
Perez is a special talent, but takes a backseat to players such as fellow infielders Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, which demonstrates how talented the Royals offense will likely be going forward. As under-the-radar players go, Perez is as important to the Royals as his more talked-about teammates.