The Kansas City Royals agreed to a four-year contract extension with catcher Salvador Perez that begins with the 2022 season and has a team option for 2026. Multiple reports say the deal is worth $82 million.
The 30-year old Perez is coming off a 2020 season in which he was named American League Comeback Player of the Year, a Louisville Silver Slugger Award winner, and a first-team All-MLB selection after dealing with COVID-19 in summer training. He hit a career-best .333 with 11 homers and 32 RBI over 37 games. He was part of the Royals first World Series championship in 30 years in 2015, earning World Series MVP honors, after batting .364 (8-for-22) with two doubles and two RBI in five games vs. the Mets.
So where does Salvy rank with Yadier Molina of the Cardinals and who is the better catcher? I think the first reaction by baseball fans here in Missouri would be to say Yadi, hand’s down, no contest. I think I would lean that way but let’s look at the numbers and see if that answer changes.
For me, just off the eye test, I think Salvy is more of a power hitter, he also had great success at throwing runners out, maybe not as good as Yadi. Molina has a knack for getting hits in key situations and is more durable. As you read the comparisons, keep in mind I’m doing this in real time. Both started their careers at the age of 21. Yadi played in just 51 games his first year, Salvy (who was drafted as an infielder made his MLB debut at 21 behind the plate and played in 39 games.
In their first 115 MLB games, Yadi hit .255 with 8 homers and 59 RBI. Salvy hit .311 with 14 homers and 60 RBIs. Salvy never hit lower than .235 and in his first full season hit a career best .292 (not counting last year’s short season). Yadi hit .216 his first full season, but has topped .300 five times during his career.
Salvy’s 162-game average is a .269 hitter with 25 homers and 89 RBIs per year with an OPS of .749. Yadi’s 162-game average for his career is .281 with 13 homers and 75 RBIs with an OPS of .737.
Salvy–6 All-Star appearances, five Gold Gloves and three Silver Slugger Awards, plus World Series MVP. Salvy is a career .233 postseason hitter.
Yadi–9 All-Star appearances, nine Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger Award. Yadi is a career .280 postseason hitter.
Defensively, Yadi has more hardware and over his career has thrown out 40% of all potential base stealers when the league average is 28%. Salvy is also well above league average, but not in Yadi’s range at 35%.
There is no doubt that Yadi has the numbers and longevity to earn Missouri’s best catcher, but Salvy is a pretty darn good backstop as well and will continue to put up solid numbers as long as he stays healthy. I’d give the edge to Yadi but I don’t think there are many (if any) catchers I’d put ahead of him in the last 20 years with the exception of Pudge Rodriquez? However, I think Salvy is often overlooked and some of that may have to do with Kansas City but as far as the second best catcher in the majors over the last decade, I’m hard pressed to find someone better than Salvy.
That’s a great 1-2 combo to have right here in the Show-Me State.