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.
The Yankees appear to have moved on from free agent Manny Machado this winter, but could they be turning their attention to Rockies superstar Nolan Arenado? That’s the idea floated by Andy Martino of SNY, who hears that GM Brian Cashman has been involved in recent discussions concerning the third baseman. No official comments have been made to the press yet, though, and it’s not clear whether the Yankees would prefer to pursue Arenado prior to the 2019 season or partway through it.
The 27-year-old infielder earned his fourth consecutive All-Star nomination, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove award in 2018 after slashing .297/.374/.561 with 38 home runs, a .935 OPS, and 5.7 fWAR across 673 plate appearances. There’s no question he’s provided immense value to Colorado’s lineup over the last half-decade, and his consistency and incredible power at the plate helped form the basis of the record $30 million arbitration figure he presented to the team last week. The Rockies countered at $24 million, however, and in doing so may have jeopardized their chances of convincing the infielder to forego free agency in 2020 and take a long-term deal instead.
Assuming he declines to negotiate an extension with the Rockies, Arenado’s decorated résumé and career-best 2018 numbers should attract plenty of interest around the league — a reality that could put considerable pressure on the Yankees (or any other interested party) to finesse a deal sooner rather than later. For now, the club is prepared to enter the 2019 season with hot-hitting third baseman Miguel Andújar, whom Martino speculates would be the “centerpiece” of any trade with Colorado.