So much for Salvador Perez only missing a few weeks.
Perez underwent his scheduled knee surgery today and the Royals announced afterward that he’s expected to be out for 12-14 weeks, which would mean a mid-June return at the earliest.
In other words, there’s a strong chance the 21-year-old catcher will miss the entire first half of the season, which is an awfully tough break so soon after signing a long-term contract extension that could potentially keep him in Kansas City through 2019.
For now Brayan Pena will move atop the catching depth chart, but Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star speculated this morning that the Royals could be interested in 40-year-old Ivan Rodriguez as a veteran replacement. And that was before the news of Perez’s longer-than-expected recovery timetable.
Pena has hit just .251 with a .293 on-base percentage and .359 slugging percentage in 267 career games through age 29, but that .652 OPS is actually higher than Rodriguez’s mark in both 2011 (.604) and 2010 (.640). Rodriguez can still shut down a running game with his elite arm strength, whereas Pena has thrown out just 27 percent of steal attempts.
Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.
Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.
The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.
If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.