Originally written on Full Spectrum Baseball  |  Last updated 3/1/12

The Kansas City Royals have signed catcher Sal Perez to a long term deal that promises to keep him in the fold through 2016 but could last as long as 2019.  As a general rule, teams tend to do pretty well on long term deals that include more than 1 option year.  Why?  Well, those option years tend to come at the end of a contract when the annual salary tends to increase almost exponentially.   However, the general rule is usually applied to players who have a few years of established performance to aid teams in projecting performance.  The Perez deal may break the mold, so it seems like a great candidate for “Contract Bets” where we collectively pass judgment on a contract or trade and return to this same topic at a later date to continue a debate that we will table at some point here.

The Details:  The Royals have signed rookie catcher, Salvador Perez to a 5 yr / $7M with 3 option years that total around $20M.

Good Bet:  As long as Perez turns into at least a decent everyday catcher at the major league level, the bet should be good.  The Royals have protected themselves from the cost uncertainty of arbitration.  Even if Perez turns into a hybrid beast combination of Buster Posey and Brian McCann in a few years, the team won’t be on the hook from some potential 8-figure years.  If the likely worst case scenario is that he will just a solid backstop, the Royals still might realize some cost savings.  Consider a quick guess of $1.5M for the pre-arbitration years and another $5.5M for the first 2 years of arbitration.  Perez should be able to easily earn that $5.5M over 2 years.  If he turns into a top 20 catcher after 5 years, then the option years should be no-brainers for the Royals.

Bad Bet:  Maybe the Royals jumped the gun on this one just a bit.  As a standalone deal, this is possibly a push from a worst-case perspective.  However, this may very well impact the way guys like Eric Hosmer and Alex Gordon assess their relative values within the organization.  The contract by itself looks like a real win for the Royals, unless Perez absolutely falls flat or happens to be abducted by aliens.  If it does indeed lead to some unintended consequences, then that certainly does reflect somewhat poorly on this organizational decision, but that seems like a chance worth taking.  Still, it sure seems like this contract could have been done a few months from now or even after the end of the season.

My Call:  I feel almost obligated to call this a “good bet” solely on the cost certainty component.  Hopefully, this contract also sends the right message to both the team and the fan base about the Royals being serious about building for the long term.

DISCLAIMER:  I refer to contracts as good or bad bets, because we really are talking about calculating or estimating odds on something that essentially is a moving target.  Unless you can predict the future, you simply cannot know whether or not the deal will work out better for the club or the player.  Maybe this subtle semantic differentiation is not worth mentioning, but there is a notable difference between knowing about a past event or series of events and believing that you know about events yet to pass.

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