Why Salvador Perez Is So Important to the Royals
Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez is a happier man today.
After signing a contract that essentially paid him peanuts on a series of team-controlled options for the next three years, the Royals did their catcher a solid and altered the 26-year-old's contract, signing him to a five-year extension worth $36 million that goes into effect next year and will cover his next five seasons.
Although he's allergic to walks (3.5% career walk rate, 2.4% walk rate in 2015), Perez is an outstanding defender, is durable, and provides a lot of pop behind the dish.
His 21 homers were a career high last year, but his batting average was not as high and his on-base percentage was downright terrible. And despite still putting up good defensive metrics as a catcher, he was only worth 1.6 fWAR last season, after totaling more than three wins a season the two previous years.
If Perez holds any value in fantasy, it is to provide an owner with some homers and RBI from the catcher position. Those 21 dingers were third-most among MLB catchers last season, and his 70 runs batted in were fifth.
But even with those power numbers, he was still below league average as a run producer, according to his weighted runs created (wRC+), and his fWAR of 1.6 was 16th-best in baseball, right in between Cleveland's Roberto Perez (1.7 fWAR) and Texas' Robinson Chirinos and Boston's Blake Swihart (both 1.5 fWAR).
But this is not meant to bag on Sal Perez. His defense truly is valuable and is a major reason why he holds so much value to the Royals.
He tallied five defensive runs saved (DRS) last season, tied for eighth-most in the Majors, and his overall defensive rating from Fangraphs (12.2) was second-best.
And he's also been a solid performer in the two World Series in which the Royals have played the last two seasons. In those 12 Fall Classic games, Perez hit .348/.375/.478 for an OPS of .853, with a homer and 6 doubles.
He was named World Series MVP last season when he hit .364/.391/.455 for an .846 OPS with 8 hits in 22 at-bats.
There is also undoubtedly a lot of sentimentality with this decision to extend Perez. And the three-time All Star and three-time Gold Glover is still young, just 26 years old this season. Not only that, he benefits by the fact the catcher position is one of the weakest positions in baseball.
So, Perez has a ton of value for the Royals. He just may not have much for your fantasy team.