The talks that led to catcher Salvador Perez signing a Royals’ franchise-record $82MM extension over the weekend began in January. Royals Chairman and CEO John Sherman took a trip to Florida with Perez, general manager Dayton Moore, assistant GM Rene Francisco, manager Mike Matheny, and bench coach Pedro Grifol to kick off the conversations that would keep their franchise catcher in Kansas City well into his 30s, per MLB.com’s Anne Rogers.
Perez, who will turn 31 in May, has been a member of the Kansas City organization for 15 years already, and though Tommy John surgery robbed him of the 2019 season and knocked him from the public spotlight, he’s a well-respected and well-decorated catcher who has earned six All-Star nods, three Silver Slugger Awards and five Gold Gloves to go with his 2015 World Series ring and World Series MVP.
It is that resume, perhaps, that scared the Royals into thinking they would be outbid for Perez should be reach free agency. Said Moore (per Rogers): “He’s earned the right to potentially become a free agent, and who knows how that would have unfolded. But I think it’s safe to say, when Salvador Perez becomes a free agent, maybe it’s a little more challenging for us to have him here in Kansas City.”
It’s hard to know exactly what kind of market Perez would have found as a free agent entering his age-32 season. J.T. Realmuto, the consensus top backstop in the sport, didn’t spark the bidding war many expected this past offseason, eventually returning to Philadelphia on a five-year deal worth $115.5MM. Perez will make $93.5MM over a similar term if the Royals activate their club option for 2026. He will be two years older than Realmuto for the length of his contract.
James McCann, meanwhile, signed for a four-year term worth $40.6MM over his age-31 to -34 seasons. McCann doesn’t have nearly the track record that Perez does, but it’s still a little startling to see Perez now slated to make almost exactly double McCann’s guarantee while being a year older during the term of the deal.
Whether the Royals overestimated the competition they’d have for Perez on the open market wasn’t their primary concern. Whereas most teams operate on a value level, the Royals simply wanted Perez in Kansas City over the long haul. Royals leadership has long been concerned with properly rewarding Perez for all that he’s done for the organization, writes the Athletic’s Andy McCullough. That was goal number one, and they accomplished it.