Yesterday, Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez earned his first Gold Glove award for his outstanding work behind the plate. Advanced defensive stats rank him first among all AL catchers defensively, and he leads MLB in runners caught stealing. Only Matt Wieters has a lower stolen bases against average, and his percentage is just .001 lower than Perez’s.
It should go without saying that his Gold Glove was well-deserved, and he’ll earn many more in the years to come. This award should help get Salvy more of the credit he deserves, and it also solidifies his spot as the most valuable catcher in baseball.
Perez is obviously a great asset to have behind the plate, but he also stands out as one of the most consistent offensive producers at his position. Wieters in the only catcher in the league to play more innings than Perez, who only missed time this year from his multiple mild concussions. Perez hit .292 with 79 RBIs in 138 games played this year.
Only Yadier Molina and Jonathan Lucroy earned more RBI in as many games played, and only Buster Posey recorded a higher batting average in that much playing time.
For determining whether or not he’s truly the most valuable player at his position right now, Salvy’s age and his long-term contract must also be considered. At just 23-years-old, Perez just finished up the second season of his five-year, $7 million contract with the Royals, which includes options after the contract ends in 2016. There’s no question Perez represents the most value at his position per dollar spent, but is he really the league’s most valuable catcher?
It would be hard to argue against Molina, considering his playoff experience and all-around great production, but Yadi is coming up on his 11th season in the league next year. At 31-years old, Molina is working on a 10-year, $96.5 million contract through 2018.
His offensive production in the last three years are all better than Salvador’s one full season, but Perez will play for $1.5 million next season, whereas Molina will be earning exactly 10 times that much. $13.5 million extra is a lot to spend for one more RBI, one less HR and 27 more points on batting average.
Since Yadi is so expensive and he’s quickly approaching the zenith of his career, it should be safe to say that Perez is the league’s most valuable catcher. Other young players like Wieters and Posey may be legitimately impressive too, but nobody gives a team as much on offense and defense with such a team-friendly contract. It will be a pleasure to see him perform next year and long into the future.