Salvy grateful to stay with Royals, help young core win

August 3rd, 2023

This story was excerpted from Anne Rogers’ Royals Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

KANSAS CITY --  sat at his locker and looked up at the TV in the Royals clubhouse on Tuesday afternoon, watching as his name was mentioned several times ahead of the Trade Deadline.

This year more than ever, the Royals’ veteran catcher saw and heard his name among trade rumors. This year more than ever, the Royals were open to trading their captain, exploring deals that didn’t end up coming to fruition.

So when 5 p.m. CT arrived and Perez was still a Royal, he was happy.

“I believe in God, so if he wants me to stay here, I’ll stay here,” Perez said Wednesday. “If something were to happen yesterday, I’d leave. I’ve said this before: It’s a business. I love Kansas City. I love the fans here. But I understand the business. 

“But thank God I stayed.”

Perez has made clear he’d like to retire a Royal and play for the organization that signed him as a teenager in 2006. He also has 10-and-5 rights, meaning he can veto any trade scenario that is proposed. But what this Deadline showed is the Royals are open to trading star names, setting up a big offseason that could see them revisit the conversations they had over the last few weeks -- including Perez.

“It was worth going down the path, but we knew with the team we were talking to how complicated it was, and it was going to be hard to pull off,” general manager J.J. Picollo said about a potential trade involving Perez. “... Open to conversations with [Perez], very candid, and he was excellent working through it. But he always reiterated, ‘You know where I want to be.’”

Perez does not know what will happen this offseason or next year; his contract runs through 2025 with a ‘26 team option. He doesn’t worry about it too much, anyway.

“People sometimes get pressured when they think about it, think about the day, whether they’re staying or leaving,” Perez said. “I don’t worry about it. If it happens, it happens. If not, that’s good. The only thing I know is that I’m going to play hard and I’m going to play my best. I’m going to play hard no matter where I’m at.

“The good thing about it is I have the 10-and-5. I have to say yes. So it depends on what team they ask me about. I still have to say yes or no. So I don’t really worry about it.”

Perez, 33, would like to continue playing for the team he won a World Series with and grew into the stalwart backstop on what is now a young team. He believes in this group, too, spearheaded by Bobby Witt Jr.When asked what gave him confidence about the core the Royals are building, Perez referenced Tuesday’s walk-off win, when the Mets scored two in the top of the 10th.

The Royals responded by tying the game in the bottom of the frame and loading the bases before a balk gave them the win.

“Honest with you, they play hard to the last out,” Perez said. “Seeing them take the at-bats like that, they never stopped. They never think, ‘The game is over.’ They compete. What Junior is doing is amazing. I always say Junior is going to be the superstar. He’s a great player. Humble. Takes care of people, his teammates. He’s good.

“I’m the old guy in here. I don’t like losing. But when I got called up in 2011, it was kind of like that too. It took us two more years to be back. I think it’s part of the process. Control what I can control, do the best I can do to help my team win and try to teach the young guys how to play for the guy behind them. That is my job. I love it.”