The Royals and Sal Perez had been in talks over a new contract for some time and now those talks are over: he and his club have agreed to a five-year, $52.5 million extension, according to Jon Heyman.
Perez had been on an insanely team-friendly deal. In 2012 he signed a five-year, $7 million deal that included three club options which could, at the discretion of the Royals, keep their catcher locked up through 2019 with a maximum value of $26.5 million. This deal replaces that one.
It’s still a good deal for Kansas City. Perez, who was the 2015 World Series MVP, is considered the heart and soul of the Royals. He’s entering his sixth season and has a career line of .279/.306/.431, which amounts to an OPS+ of 100, or league average hitting. Which, for a catcher, and a durable one like Perez, is quite valuable. Compared to others, his $10 million a year or thereabouts still represents a good deal for the Royals.
Baseball fandom’s inherently local qualities make it hard to go too deeply into any one team’s world if you’re not already rooting for that team. There are conversations, jokes, controversies and memes that, say, Giants fans have that non-Giants fans will never likely know about. There are nicknames Tigers fans may give to a utility player that non-Tigers fans will never hear. It’s one of the cooler things about baseball fandom, actually, and whenever I stumble upon some new, well, thing that a given fan base has discussed and considered for some time, out of the view of most other fans, I smile. It’s such a rich world out there.
But it can be a bit disturbing at times to realize that you didn’t know about something important. Such as the rumor — which has now gone fully into accepted wisdom, it seems — that Hank the Dog, the Brewers’ unofficial mascot, is an impostor.
The theory, which dates back at least to December but was being discussed even before that, is that the original Hank has been replaced with a fluffier, more photogenic dog. It’s all laid out here at Brew Crew Ball, and it’s fairly undeniable based on the photographic evidence.
Is it a scandal? I’d say no. There are any number of live animal mascots which have been replaced as time has gone on. In most cases they get numeric designations like “Bevo XIV” or “Uga 10.” There’s no reason the Brewers can’t have a “Hank II” if the first Hank either died or was otherwise deemed not to be good for public appearances for some reason.
The Brewers have been more cagey about it, however. All of which makes me wonder if the Phillie Phanatic has been secretly replaced or if the original Mr. Met died in a smelting accident or something. How deep does the mascot deception go?
It’s one thing when Yasiel Puig says that he’s going to work harder, that he wants to be a good teammate and that he is a dedicated member of the Los Angeles Dodgers. It’s another thing for him to actually walk the walk. He said it last year and probably wasn’t in the best shape of his life, missed a lot of time and undercut the sentiment. He said it before that and was often late to work and clashed with his manager and teammates. All along he has drawn criticism of his teammates and his manager which is telling. Even if some criticism of Puig, particularly from the media, has been overblown, the fact that he has been a source of friction in the Dodgers clubhouse is undeniable.
It’s possible, however, that things truly have changed this year. Not because of anything Puig is saying, but because of what other people are saying. Notably, people who have not been predisposed, historically, to speak well of Puig. Guys like Clayton Kershaw, who say that Puig is impressing them this spring and that he’s putting in his work.
That sentiment is included in this excellent column from Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. In it he talks about Puig’s better physical conditioning, his apparent engagement with teammates, which is much improved, and comments from Dave Roberts and others suggesting that Puig has made changes to the way he, as the ballplayers say, goes about his business.
Is it all worth believing? No, not yet. Ultimately what matters most is his production. The better it is the more room he has to be eccentric or aggravating. If he plays 150 games or more, is effective and if the Dodgers win, none of this matters too terribly much. Either way, Puig has talked the talk before and hasn’t always delivered.
But this is certainly worth bookmarking. We can check back in June or July to see if performance has matched promise.