The Kansas City Royals possess one of the brightest young rosters in all of Major League Baseball, headlined by Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer. While this group came through the ranks very highly touted, the presence of catcher Salvador Perez might be the key to this team's success.
The Royals have increased their win total in each of the last four seasons. Though a step in the right direction, their 72 victories in 2012 definitely left a bad impression on the entire organization.
Instead of shooting for a nominal improvement in the standings, general manager Dayton Moore was given the green light by owner David Glass to make the necessary changes for this team to immediately right the ship.
Kansas City went out and traded for starting pitchers James Shields, Wade Davis and Ervin Santana and re-signed Jeremy Guthrie—who pitched well for the team after being acquired from the Colorado Rockies last July.
Perez missed the beginning of the 2012 season recovering from a tear to his lateral meniscus in his left knee that he suffered during spring training. After making a huge impression with his glove and at the plate toward the end of 2011, his absence was certainly felt.
Returning in June, Perez went on to hit .301/.328/.471, tallying 11 home runs, 37 runs batted in and 38 runs scored in just 76 games—raising curiosity as to how much of an impact the catcher would have over an entire season.
With a revamped starting rotation and another year entrenched as the Royals' anchor behind the plate, Perez will be leaned on from day one to carry this team. Hitting in the middle of the lineup only adds to the expectations.
Signing him to a long-term contract prior to the beginning of last season and just a week before his injury (via ESPN.com), Kansas City realized exactly how special Perez is. This season will provide both parties the opportunity to finally cash in on the relationship.
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