Salvador Perez Rumors

All-Star Berths Could Cost Royals $1.275MM

Eight Royals hitters lead their positions in AL All-Star balloting, which is amusing story for Royals fans and for Major League Baseball. Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star points out, however, that so many All-Star selections could have an effect on the Royals’ bottom line. If the Royals do in fact send eight starters to the All-Star Game, it could cost them $1.25MM in escalators and incentives. If reliever Wade Davis makes the team, he would get a $25K bonus as part of the contract he originally signed with the Rays, raising the Royals’ total payout to $1.275MM.

Second baseman Omar Infante would get $250K in 2016 and again in 2017 due to a clause in his contract that gives him $250K for each future season after receiving an All-Star berth or Silver Slugger award. Catcher Salvador Perez could receive $350K spread over his three option seasons ($50K in 2016, $100K in 2017 and $200K in 2018). In addition, each player selected (also potentially including Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, Alcides Escobar, Mike Moustakas and Kendrys Morales) would get a $50K bonus as part of a standard clause in the Royals’ contracts.

The Royals had already reportedly been planning to consider re-working Perez’s incredibly cheap contract. They’re under no obligation to do so, but if they do, the All-Star clauses in his current deal won’t be likely to matter much.

McCullough points out, however, that an additional cost of the Royals’ All-Star berths might come in the form of greater arbitration raises for Moustakas and Cain. Moustakas currently makes $2.64MM, while Cain makes $2.73MM. Both have two years of arbitration eligibility remaining. All-Star selections could increase their future arbitration-year salaries.

McCullough notes that Cain has interest in a long-term deal. Hosmer, meanwhile, is signed through 2016, and it does not appear likely the Royals will keep him after he becomes a free agent following the 2017 season.

Nonetheless, the Royals don’t appear outwardly concerned about the additional payouts. Their financial effect probably pales in importance to the success the Royals have experienced in the past few seasons and the goodwill their players’ current standing in All-Star balloting seems to reflect.

Every single night, you pull hard for your players,” says Royals GM Dayton Moore. “I hope they reach all their goals. I hope they reach all their bonuses. It’s good for them.”

Royals Could Renegotiate Salvador Perez’s Deal, But Should They?

The Royals plan to approach Salvador Perez soon about a new contract at some point soon, Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan writes, citing a team source. Perez’s is currently in the midst of a five-year, $7MM deal that Passan aptly calls “the best bargain in the big leagues.”

The Royals signed Perez before the 2012 season, when Perez was still remarkably unproven and not the sort of player who would typically receive a multiyear deal. Via MLBTR’s Extension Tracker, at the time of the deal, just two players in recent history had received extensions while they had less service time than Perez did. Both those players, Evan Longoria and Matt Moore, were widely regarded as top young talents. Not only did Perez have just 158 big-league plate appearances to his name, but he also hadn’t been an outstanding minor-league hitter. Now, of course, Perez has made two All-Star teams and won two Gold Gloves, and he’s been a key part of the Royals’ last two successful seasons.

When I signed my contract, I was 100 percent sure I wanted to sign it,” says Perez. “I didn’t want to feel like, ‘Why am I doing that?” But I didn’t know what kind of player I was going to be like.”

At this point, there are plenty of valid reasons for the Royals not to negotiate a new deal with Perez, just as the Cardinals have not negotiated a new deal with John Lackey, another valuable player whose contract called for him to be wildly underpaid this year. Perez’s current deal calls for him to be paid $1.75MM in 2015, followed by $2MM in 2016. The Royals have options on his services for $3.75MM in 2017, $5MM in 2018 and $6MM in 2019, with the salaries in those three years increasing a total of $5MM based on awards bonuses. As Passan points out, those very low figures could allow the Royals to spend money elsewhere, money they might need as a variety of other players become eligible for free agency.

The Royals could, of course, renegotiate the deal as a gesture of goodwill. “I had nothing,” says Perez. “Where I’m coming from, they’re talking about a million dollars. And I don’t got nobody in that moment to explain to me how it’s going to be or how high it could be.”

Perez did have an agent, Gustavo Vasquez, however. And it wouldn’t be fair to the Royals to characterize the contract as the result of an opportunistic club taking advantage of a poor and naive young man, as Vahe Gregorian points out in the Kansas City Star. At the time of the deal, the Royals were taking a risk on a highly unproven young player, and it was a clear possibility that the Royals would get very little for their $7MM investment.

I don’t think there was another catcher in the history of our game … that had been signed (to such a long-term contract) with that little amount of service time,” Royals GM Dayton Moore tells Gregorian.

Just as no one would have expected Perez to return a portion of his $7MM guarantee if he hadn’t turned out the way the Royals had hoped, then, the Royals do not seem morally obligated to give Perez more money now that the deal has worked in their favor. And from a baseball perspective, there are few reasons for them to do so. The possibility of controlling additional years is the only tangible benefit the Royals would likely gain from renegotiating Perez’s contract. But they already control Perez through his age-29 season, and there should be little motivation for them to try to control him beyond 2019, since projecting how a catcher might perform in five years and as he enters his thirties seems tricky at best. That’s particularly true in Perez’s case, given his size and his often heavy workloads.

Heyman’s Latest: A-Rod, BoSox, Bryant, Ventura, Gordon, Duda

In this week’s edition of his Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports begins by looking at the contentious courtroom showdown that stands between Alex Rodriguez and as much as $30MM worth of home run milestone bonuses. As Heyman notes, people on all sides of the case have reasons to dislike A-Rod. Rodriguez filed a lawsuit (that was eventually dropped) against the MLBPA, and he parted ways with agent Scott Boras more than six years ago. The Yankees’ reasons for resenting Rodriguez are obvious, as are those of the league, with whom Rodriguez battled to reduce a 212-game suspension to a still-significant 162 game ban. Heyman looks at the arguments that can be made by both sides as well as the potential fallout once the situation is finally resolved.

Some highlights from the latest edition of Heyman’s newest weekly column…

  • Though the Red Sox aren’t blinking when it comes to trade talks with the Phillies regarding Cole Hamels, one rival GM considers Boston the favorite. The Phillies quite like center field prospect Manuel Margot, and Boston does have other nice pieces. Heyman notes that one scout actually expressed concern to him about Mookie Betts‘ ability to hit the ball on the outer half of the plate, but the Sox remain steadfast in their refusal to part ways with Betts.
  • The Cubs aren’t concerned with a potential grievance being filed against them on behalf of Kris Bryant. Rather, their main concern is trying to find a way to extend him beyond his current allotment of team control. Heyman hears that Cubs are already considering trying to make him a Cub for life, though he also notes that it’s a bit early for those discussions.
  • White Sox skipper Robin Ventura signed an extension of an unreported length prior to the 2014 season, and Heyman now hears that Ventura is under contract through the 2016 season. The contract length is said to be of little importance to ChiSox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who loves Ventura.
  • The Royals plan to try to do “whatever they can” to retain Alex Gordon beyond the 2015 season. The 32-year-old Gordon’s $12.5MM player option has increased to $13.25MM based on performance escalators, per Heyman. While Gordon has implied that he will exercise the option in the past, it’s exceptionally difficult to envision him merely picking up the option rather than trying for a highly lucrative multi-year deal. The Royals never felt they had a great shot at retaining James Shields, but their hope with Gordon is that the career Royal and Nebraska native might be easier to retain. Heyman adds that while the club is interested in trying to extend Salvador Perez beyond the 2019 season, those talks aren’t likely to come until after the season.
  • Juan Uribe is off to a decent start with the Dodgers, but the hot play of Alex Guerrero and the addition of Hector Olivera in Spring Training could eventually lead to Uribe becoming available on the trade market. Uribe’s at hasn’t lined up with his previous seasons to this point, but he’s hit a perhaps surprisingly strong .293/.333/.435 dating back to Opening Day 2013.
  • Rival executives are anxiously anticipating a Brewers fire sale following the club’s awful 5-17 start to the season, Heyman hears. One exec listed Carlos Gomez, Khris Davis, Jean Segura, Gerardo Parra, Kyle Lohse and Francisco Rodriguez as players who will draw interest, noting that Jonathan Lucroy is probably untouchable, while Matt Garza and Ryan Braun are somewhat overpriced.
  • The Mets were trying for a three-year extension that contained a club option and would’ve guaranteed Lucas Duda a bit shy of $30MM. I’d imagine that with Duda could end up the beneficiary in that scenario, particularly if he can sustain the increase in his walk rate and the more notable decrease in his strikeout rate.
  • Multiple Yankees people have shot down the notion that the team would pursue Hamels when asked by Heyman. One replied that the team is “not looking” at Hamels, while another wondered if Hamels is still a legitimate ace or more of just a big name.

Heyman’s Latest: Kimbrel, Howard, Perez, Salty, Soriano, Cueto

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports has penned a lengthy column that’s chock full of Hot Stove related items as the season gets underway. First and foremost, he chronicles the Braves‘ trade of Craig Kimbrel at length. Heyman spoke to president of baseball ops John Hart, who candidly told Heyman that the team took a hard line of refusing to trade Kimbrel unless Melvin Upton Jr. was involved in the deal. “We were not going to separate Kimbrel and trade him by himself,” Hart told Heyman. Atlanta reached out to the Cubs, Astros, Dodgers and Padres, among others, this winter in an effort to move Upton, and despite the Dodgers’ bullpen needs, they weren’t willing to add Upton’s contract to that of Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier, having already shed Matt Kemp‘s contract. The Padres trade didn’t heat up until about four days before it was agreed upon, Heyman writes, with Hart even remaining in Orlando to finish negotiations rather than fly with the team to Miami at the end of Spring Training. Hart credited assistant GM John Coppolella for doing much of the legwork and his creativity in getting the trade finalized.

More highlights from Heyman’s article (though the entire piece is well worth your time)…

  • While some reports late in Spring Training indicated that the Phillies would be willing to eat up to $50MM of the remaining $60MM on Ryan Howard‘s contract, two GMs tell Heyman they hadn’t heard that figure. One of those GMs was of the belief that the Phillies’ top offer was to pay about $35MM, which, Heyman speculates, may have been a large reason that the Royals opted to sign Kendrys Morales for two years and $17MM rather than pursue a Howard trade.
  • Speaking of the Royals, Heyman hears that the team is open to pursuing a second extension with catcher Salvador Perez and would be happy to make him a Royal for life. Heyman notes that some in the organization even have some sympathy for Perez, whose five-year, $7MM contract is widely considered the most team-friendly deal in all of baseball. Perez’s deal contains three startlingly low club options valued at $3.75MM, $5MM and $6MM for the 2017-19 seasons — two of which would have been free-agent seasons beginning at the age of 28.
  • The Marlins tried to trade Jarrod Saltalamacchia this winter after the catcher’s first season on a three-year, $21MM pact was a struggle, but his salary was too great a deterrent. The Marlins presumably feel that top prospect J.T. Realmuto could step into the catcher’s role in the not-too-distant future.
  • The Tigers are believed to be at least monitoring Rafael Soriano‘s workouts at the Boras Sports Training Institute in Miami, per Heyman. However, Soriano has seen his stock suffer not only due to ineffective innings late int he 2014 season but also due to perceptions about his personality and negative clubhouse impact. At least one club that was taking a hard look at late-inning relievers ruled out Soriano entirely due to that perception, Heyman reports.
  • The Reds felt the odds of extending Johnny Cueto prior to Opening Day were so slim that it’s not even clear if they made a formal offer, writes Heyman. Cueto is seeking a figure in the range of $200MM following Max Scherzer‘s mammoth contract this offseason, he adds. Heyman also opines that David Price would probably be selling himself short if he took much less than $200MM from the Tigers at this point as well.
  • Anecdotally, Heyman tells the story of how Cody Ross‘ career began when he was sold to the Marlins from the Reds in exchange for “cash considerations” of precisely one dollar. Former Reds GM Wayne Krivsky spoke to Heyman about the deal, explaining that they didn’t have room on the Cincinnati roster back in ’06 but genuinely wanted to get Ross into the best possible position to have a chance at a Major League roster spot. Ross has gone on to earn more than $52MM in the game of baseball.

Salvador Perez Changes Agents

Royals catcher Salvador Perez has changed agents from SPS Sports Group to Rick Thurman of Beverly Hills Sports Council, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets.

Perez is in the midst of a very long and team-friendly extension signed unusually early in his career. He’s making $1.5MM in 2014 and his under Royals control through 2019, with team options the last three years of just $3.75MM, $5MM and $6MM for the last three seasons.

Royals, Mets Discussed R.A. Dickey

The Royals have talked to the Mets about R.A. Dickey as they continue to search for a top-of-the-rotation starter, Jon Heyman of reports. Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reported this week that the Royals have had discussions about trading Wil Myers for Jon Lester or James Shields.

The Royals aren’t looking to trade Myers and have no interest in moving Salvador Perez, Heyman writes. Alex Gordon and Billy Butler are close to untouchable and the Royals aren’t inclined to trading Alcides Escobar, either. Instead, the Royals would prefer to send the Mets younger prospects in a deal for Dickey. 

If the Royals were to acquire Dickey, the 2012 NL Cy Young winner, he’d join Jeremy Guthrie, Ervin Santana and others in Kansas City.

"Our rotation is going to better, but we're still looking for the opportunity to improve on what we've done,'' Royals GM Dayton Moore told Heyman.

The Royals seem interested in trading Luke Hochevar and Bruce Chen. Doing so might free up salary for Moore, who now has up to $6MM to spend, according to Heyman.

The Mets have explored the possibility of a contract extension with Dickey, who will earn $5MM in 2013 before hitting free agency. If they trade the knuckleballer, they’d prefer a catcher and outfield help.

Passan’s Latest: Myers, Fowler, Asdrubal, McCarthy

The Royals have been shopping top prospect Wil Myers but only in exchange for starting pitching, reports Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan.  Earlier this week, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reported that Kansas City was known to be at least listening to offers for Myers and top position players like Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer.  The only untouchable Royals appear to be Alcides Escobar and Salvador Perez due to their team-friendly contracts — "executives consider [Perez's deal] the best in the game," Passan writes.

The Royals have discussed trades with the Rays, Mariners, Diamondbacks and Athletics, Passan reports.  While Myers would be of interest to any team, he is of particular value to low-payroll teams like the Rays and A's given that Gordon and Butler have large contracts and Moustakas/Hosmer are Scott Boras clients.

Here are some more items from Passan…

  • The Rockies' asking price for Dexter Fowler is "absurd," one rival executive tells Passan.  It appears to be a buyers' market for center fielders right now, though another executive warns that "it will shake out" as the offseason progresses.
  • The Indians are shopping Asdrubal Cabrera, though "not at Black Friday prices," an executive says.  Cabrera is one of a few shortstops on the trade market, along with the Astros' Jed Lowrie and the Marlins' Yunel Escobar.
  • Teams are more worried about Brandon McCarthy's history of arm injuries than with his season-ending brain surgery.  If McCarthy's medicals are clear, however, a team executive thinks the right-hander will get a multiyear contract.
  • Anibal Sanchez's demands for a six-year, $90MM contract are "crazy, and he's probably going to get it," an executive tells Passan.

Catcher Extension Notes: Perez, Molina, Ruiz

The 2013 class of free agent catchers is taking shape. Yadier Molina and the Cardinals signed a five-year, $75MM extension this week, but Miguel Montero and Russell Martin have tabled extension talks for now and Mike Napoli expects to test free agency. Here are the latest notes on catcher extensions in MLB…

  • One agent joked to Jon Heyman of that Royals GM Dayton Moore “must have been wearing a ski mask” to convince Salvador Perez to sign a five-year, $7MM extension (Twitter link). I examined the extension earlier in the week, explaining what Perez will have to do for the Royals to break even.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports suggests the Diamondbacks and Braves might be ticked off by Molina's extension. The deal figures to shift the market for catchers and it may now cost more to retain the likes of Montero and Brian McCann. Rosenthal says the Cardinals' deal with Molina is an overpay, but an understandable one given the value of Molina's defense. 
  • David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News explains that the Molina deal isn't a fair point of reference for Carlos Ruiz. Though Ruiz and Molina have posted similar offensive numbers in recent years, the Phillies’ catcher won't hit free agency until he's entering his age-35 season and allowed stolen bases with much greater frequency than Molina in 2011.

Examining Salvador Perez’s Extension

The sixth-youngest player to appear in an MLB game in 2011 signed a multiyear deal yesterday. 21-year-old Salvador Perez is now the youngest player in the sport with a long-term contract (not counting amateur signing bonuses). The Royals made a historic investment by guaranteeing $7MM to someone with just a handful of games in the Major leagues. But if Perez turns into an MLB regular behind the plate, there’s an excellent chance this deal will save the club money long-term.

Let’s set aside the year-to-year breakdown of the five-year deal and determine how the sides are valuing Perez’s first two seasons of arbitration eligibility. He’ll earn $7MM for his first five MLB seasons — essentially the league minimum for three years plus a total of $5.5MM for two arb years. 

How much do catchers have to produce to earn $5.5MM for their first two seasons of arbitration eligibility? To give you an idea, John Buck, Carlos Ruiz, Rod Barajas, Mike Napoli and Yadier Molina earned $4.5-6MM for that chunk of their careers. If Perez produces like those catchers, adding value on offense while playing capable defense on a regular basis, he and the Royals will basically have broken even through five years.

If Perez breaks out and produces like Joe Mauer, Brian McCann or Geovany Soto, the Royals will save money, even for the guaranteed portion of the deal. If he struggles to produce or stay healthy, the deal will cost the Royals more through 2016 than going year to year would have.

The contract includes three team options which were presumably essential for the Royals. They can retain him for $3.75MM in 2017 and lock up two free agent years for a total of $11MM in 2018-19. In other words, the Royals will have the chance to lock Perez’s prime age 27-29 seasons up at a well-below-market rate.

He obtained significant security just 39 games into his MLB career, and there's no guarantee he'll establish himself as the long-term solution behind the plate, but $7MM isn’t the kind of commitment that sets a franchise back significantly. Like Perez himself, this deal offers a whole lot of upside.

Royals To Extend Salvador Perez

The Royals announced that they signed catcher Salvador Perez to a five-year contract that includes three club options. Perez will earn a guaranteed $7MM over the course of the five-year contract, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports (Twitter links). The Morgan Advisory Group client could earn as much as $26.75MM if he maxes out his incentives and the Royals pick up all three options. Dutton has the yearly breakdown (Twitter links).

The deal buys out Perez's three pre-arbitration seasons and two of his seasons of arbitration eligibility. The Royals have options for his final season of arbitration eligibility and for his first two free agent seasons.

Perez debuted with the Royals last year, appearing in 39 games. The 21-year-old posted a .331/.361/.473 line in 158 plate appearances, adding 13 extra base hits. Before getting called up to Kansas City, Perez posted a .290/.331/.437 line in the upper minors and prevented 46% of stolen base attempts against him.

Perez joins Matt Moore and Evan Longoria, who also signed extensions before notching their first full year of MLB service time. The two Rays players also signed deals that include three club options. There's not much recent precedent for extensions involving pre-arbitration eligible catchers, as MLBTR's Extension Tracker shows. 

GM Dayton Moore locked Joakim Soria up before the closer had two years of service time in a similarly motivated extension. The Royals obtained three club options on that deal as well.