An elbow injury on his throwing arm could force Royals six-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove catcher Salvador Perez to miss all of next season.
The Royals announced before Friday’s preseason game against the Angels that Perez had an MRI on Thursday, which showed damage to the catcher’s ulnar collateral ligament. Salvador Perez is expected to travel to Los Angeles next week to receive a second opinion from surgeon Neal ElAttrache.
The team said that Perez has ligament damage but didn’t clarify if it’s a tear or partial because they prefer to wait until he gets a second opinion.
“When we get the second opinion we’ll know more,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “There’s ligament damage right now.”
Surgery is clearly a possible outcome for Perez, who hit 27 home runs with 80 RBI while batting .235 with a .274 on-base percentage and a .439 slugging percentage in 129 games. The star catcher also won the American League Gold Glove for the fifth time in the last six years.
Perez, who was named the unanimous MVP of the 2015 World Series, left fielder Alex Gordon and infielder Whit Merrifield are considered the leaders of a young Royals team that has many talented players with a promising future. Perez and Gordon were two of the key players in the team’s World Series runs in 2014 and 2015.
Next Man up for the Royals
With Perez possibly sidelined for a long time, Cam Gallagher and Meibrys Viloria could replace him as the team’s starting catcher.
The 26-year-old Gallagher was a second-round pick in 2011, he came into camp as the backup catcher and he’s spent most of his professional career in the minors. Gallagher has a .218/.274/.333 slash line in 35 games in the majors.
Viloria on the other hand played 10 games with Royals at the end of last season after being called up from High-A Wilmington.
The Royals also have MJ Melendez and Sebastian Rivero in their big league camp. Melendez is one of the team’s top-rated prospects and Rivero is said to be highly-regarded because of his defense but neither player has experience above Low-A in the minors.
Last Friday MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported the Royals are interested in free agent catcher Martin Maldonado, the American League Gold Glove winner in 2017.
The 32-year-old played 119 games with the Angels and Astros last season, hitting .225 with nine home runs and 44 RBI. Maldonado is on a similar level than Perez when it comes to defense but he would clearly be a downgrade on offense. The Royals are currently +10000 longshots to win the World Series at trusted sportsbooks like BetOnline, Jazz Sports, 5Dimes and Bovada.