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Salvador Perez's new extension is less risky than you think

Sure, he's been overused, but Perez's new, still team-friendly extension will look even better by the time it starts to get expensive.

Ed Zurga/Getty Images

No catcher is more heavily used in Major league Baseball than Salvador Perez. Over the last three years, he has started 406 games behind the plate, fifty-one more than his nearest competitor. So, naturally, when the Royals signed Salvy to a five year extension this morning, my response was "good luck with that." After all, Perez could conceivably be ground down to the nub, like an overused eraser, before year three. And his offensive performance has declined each year as he has ramped up his workload.

I wasn't alone in my doubts. The excellent Cliff Corchoran, of Sports Illustrated, wrote, "If I were to make a list of All-Stars in whom it would be wise to invest long term, Perez would be near the bottom of the list" because of his usage, his size, and the beating he takes.

Which is not to say that Perez is or will be an unproductive player. Indeed, his defense remains fantastic, and we probably do not give him nearly enough credit for it when we use stats like WAR or WARP to assess his performance. And catcher is a notoriously difficult position offensively, so Perez's decline there (if it continues) shouldn't be a massive problem.

Still, you get the feeling that Perez may literally fall apart at any moment, especially around July of every year. But will he? Will he have to move off of catcher?

First, no he's not likely to. For one thing, his bat probably won't play at another position, even without the grind of catching to wear him down. He simply doesn't hit enough to be a first baseman or a DH.

For another, Perez's contract pays him only into his age 30 season. And when catchers like Perez start to go down, it's usually not until that point. Don't believe me? Perez is one of five catchers who have caught in excess of 135 games for three consecutive years through his age 25 season. In that span, he averaged 141 games caught per year. The others are as follows:

Johnny Bench, 1968-1971, 581 games (145 gm/yr)

Ted Simmons, 1972-1975, 583 games (146 gm/yr)

Butch Wynegar, 1976-1980, 556 games (139 gm/yr)


Gary Carter, 1977-1979, 436 games (145 gm/yr)

First of all, wow, 1970s. Abuse your greatest catchers of all time much?

Second, this isn't a huge list and should be taken with an appropriately huge grain of salt. That said, while Wynegar's career did fall apart precipitously, Simmons, Bench, and Carter were all productive well past 30 years of age. Now, they had more room to fall than Perez does. After all, we're talking about three of the greatest catchers in baseball history. Perez's offense, on the other hand, is already suffering because of a truly awful on-base percentage, and he will have to avoid becoming unplayable.

Plus, here's the breakdown of the new deal:


$3 million


$7.5 million


$10 million


$13 million


$13 million

Going back to what Cliff said, it's not clear the Royals have actually invested all that much in their All Star catcher. I mean, in an offseason where his team gave out $70 million over five years for Ian Kennedy, it's pretty clear that Perez is going to continue to be underpaid (especially as salaries continue to climb) unless he totally and completely falls to pieces.

And, while we don't have definitive data, it appears that a catcher like Perez is durable until the exact moment that he isn't. Thankfully for the Royals, there are few signs that Salvy is on his way there. That's not to say that there isn't a higher risk of Perez breaking down than a catcher with a more reasonable workload, but he's by no means on his way to the glue factory. And this deal, only somewhat less than his first one, is going to look very team-friendly by the end of it.