The Kansas City Royals bridged the gap with a vastly underpaid core player on Tuesday, agreeing to a contract extension with Salvador Perez that guarantees the All-Star catcher an additional $52.5 million over five seasons.
Perez had played just 39 games in the majors when he agreed to five-year, $7 million deal that included club options for 2017, 2018 and 2019. Perez soon emerged as an elite catcher and the Royals owned one of the most team-friendly contracts in baseball.
While the Royals were under no obligation to extend Perez, they did the right thing, says ESPN's David Schoenfield. "It keeps Perez happy. And it tells other Royals -- Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain -- that the organization is about winning now and into the future," Schoenfield writes.
The Perez contract does not take place in a vacuum and could be used as leverage by other players in a similar situation. The best example is Paul Goldschmidt, the Arizona Diamondbacks' All-Star first baseman who hit .321 with 33 homers and 110 RBIs last season.
Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com asks whether the Perez contract could become a trend and uses Goldschmidt as Exhibit "A" on a list that includes, among others, Anthony Rizzo, Jose Altuve and Madison Bumgarner. "It can be argued that each ... is as valuable to their clubs as Perez is to the Royals," Rosenthal writes.
As for Goldschmidt, he has not criticized his contract and the club has not expressed any public interest in a new deal. "Goldy is not one who is pushing for it," D-backs president Derrick Hall recently told the Associated Press. "Goldy has never expressed any sort of disappointment or discouragement, nor has his camp. That's really a credit to him."
Goldschmidt's camp is saying all the right things in public, at least for now. Meanwhile, D-backs GM Dave Stewart told CBSSports.com last summer that he would like to make Goldschmidt a "lifetime Diamondback."
That tasks gets a little tougher with the new deal for Perez.
Here are more rumors making the rounds on Wednesday:
Nick Markakis: The Orioles tried to talk to the Braves about reacquiring Markakis, but the answer was a resounding "nyet," tweets Peter Gammons. Markakis spent his first nine seasons in Baltimore and has always been a favorite of Orioles owner Peter Angelos.
Michael Taylor: The Nationals acquired Ben Revere to play center field and already have Jayson Werth in left, so Taylor must impress in Grapefruit League play to have any chance at a starting gig. ESPN's Jim Bowden says new manager Dusty Baker tends to favor veteran players, but Taylor is a better defender than Werth and "could be pushing the envelope this spring."
David Hernandez: The right-hander is the favorite to emerge as the Phillies' closer because he is the only free agent the club signed to a major league contract in the offseason, reports MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. Hernandez signed a one-year, $3.9 million deal shortly before the Phils officially traded Ken Giles to Houston. The competition to close includes non-roster invitees Andrew Bailey, Edward Mujica and Ernesto Frieri.
Carlos Santana: Indians manager Terry Francona appears to be backing off any plans to use Santana as his leadoff hitter, says Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. Francona was intrigued with the idea of putting Santana atop the Indians' order because the switch-hitter has drawn at least 90 walks in five straight seasons. "I don't think it was a bad idea, but I don't think it was like a runaway, 'Oh, you've got to do this,'" Francona said. Jason Kipnis was the Tribe's primary leadoff hitter in 2015 and figures to remain there.
Albert Pujols: The three-time MVP is dealing with a foot injury but apparently remains on track to be ready by Opening Day. It is unclear if he will be able to play first base, reports MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. C.J. Cron started 54 games at first base last season and is the first option if Pujols is not ready.