Pérez with the Kansas City Royals in 2015
|Kansas City Royals - No. 13|
|Born: May 10, 1990|
Valencia, Carabobo, Venezuela
|August 10, 2011, for the Kansas City Royals|
|MLB statistics |
(through 2020 season)
|Runs batted in||535|
|Career highlights and awards|
Salvador Johan Pérez Diaz (born May 10, 1990) is a Venezuelan-Americanprofessional baseball catcher for the Kansas City Royals of Major League Baseball (MLB). He is a six-time MLB All-Star, five-time Gold Glove Award winner, and received the World Series Most Valuable Player Award when the Royals won the 2015 World Series over the New York Mets.
Pérez was born in Valencia, Carabobo, Venezuela. He was abandoned by his father at age four and raised by his mother, Yilda Diaz. When he was eight years old, the two relocated to Valencia to live with Yilda's mother, Carmen de Diaz. Yilda supported the family by selling homemade cakes, flan, and lasagna.
To keep her only child busy, Yilda enrolled him in a baseball school in Valencia, where he showed an ability to throw, catch, and hit balls as young as age six. He played pitcher and shortstop with teams competing in state and national tournaments. At age eight, he indicated his preference to play catcher, and, at 14, set his mind to playing that position professionally. Pérez played with and against current Major Leaguer and fellow Venezuelan second baseman José Altuve during his boyhood.
Pérez was called up to the majors for the first time on August 10, 2011 and debuted against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. He picked off two baserunners, caught five popups - both uncommon occurrences for the Royals that season - recorded his first RBI in the 4th, and first hit in 7th. On August 29, Pérez hit his first Major League home run against Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers. In that game, Pérez was a triple away from hitting for the cycle. In his rookie year, he batted .331 with 3 HRs and 21 runs driven in, in 39 games played.
On February 27, 2012, Pérez signed a five-year, $7 million extension that includes three club options. He is under team control through 2019. He could earn up to $26.75 million if he reaches all of his incentives and all of his options are picked up. The extension covers his pre-arbitration seasons, two of his three arbitration eligible years, and, if all of his options are picked up, his final arbitration year and his first two years of free agency. Pérez earned $750,000 in 2012, $1 million in 2013, $1.5 million in 2014, $1.75 million in 2015 and will earn $2 million in 2016. His options are $3.75 million in 2017, $5 million in 2018 and $6 million in 2019.
While catching a bullpen session before a spring training game in 2012, Pérez tore the meniscus in his left knee. He did not return until July 2. In the 2012 season, he hit .301 with 11 homers and 39 RBIs in 79 games played.
On July 16, 2013, Pérez was the catcher for Mariano Rivera in Rivera's final All-Star Game before retirement. After the season, Pérez was awarded the American League Gold Glove Award for his defense at catcher. He finished the year playing 138 games with a .292 batting average, 13 home runs, and 79 RBI.
In 2014, he logged more starts (143) than any other catcher in the Major Leagues. Pérez played 150 games all together in 2014 batting .260 with 28 doubles, 17 home runs, and 70 RBI.
In Game 1 of the 2014 World Series against the San Francisco Giants, Pérez hit a home run off eventual series MVP Madison Bumgarner, representing the only run given up by Bumgarner in five World Series appearances covering 36 innings. Pérez was the final out of the series, popping out to Pablo Sandoval in foul territory to clinch the series for the Giants.
Pérez batted .364 in the 2015 World Series, which the Royals won in five games. In the Series-clinching win, Perez grounded to third in the ninth inning allowing the tying run in the Royals' comeback. The game continued into extra innings. In the 12th, Perez singled to right with no outs and Jarrod Dyson pinch ran for Perez. Dyson would eventually score, giving the Royals their first lead of the night. The Royals won 7-2 in the twelfth inning, making them the 2015 World Series Champions. Pérez was unanimously named the World Series Most Valuable Player. He is the first catcher to win the award since 1992 and the second Venezuelan to win World Series MVP.
In the 2015 season he batted .260/.280/.426. He won his third consecutive Gold Glove Award in 2015.
On March 1, Pérez signed a five-year extension to remain with the team through the 2021 season. Perez was named to his fifth consecutive All-Star Game as the starting catcher for the American League along with teammate Eric Hosmer. Pérez would finish the 2016 season with 22 home runs, more than any other American League catcher en route to his first career Silver Slugger award. He had the lowest number of pitches per plate appearance in the major leagues (3.43). He won his fourth consecutive Gold Glove Award on November 8.
Pérez hit his first career Grand Slam on June 21, 2017, helping the Royals to a 6-4 come from behind win against the Boston Red Sox. On August 6, Perez was placed on the 10-day disabled list due to an intercostal strain. He played 139 games in 2017, batting .268 with 27 home runs and 80 RBI.
On March 28, 2018, Pérez suffered a grade 2 MCL tear while carrying a suitcase up a flight of stairs. It was deemed to be a non-baseball injury, and Perez was ruled out for 4-6 weeks. On May 10, celebrating his 28th birthday, Pérez hit a grand slam, but the Royals lost to the Orioles.
Batting .213 with 11 home runs and 34 RBIs, Pérez was named to the 2018 MLB All-Star Game. On September 14, Perez hit his second grand slam of the season in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Minnesota Twins.
He finished his 2018 campaign batting .235 with 27 home runs and 80 RBIs. He swung at 48.4% of pitches outside the strike zone (the highest percentage in the majors). He also won his fifth Gold Glove, and second Silver Slugger award.
On February 27, Pérez sustained an injury to his elbow during a workout in Surprise, Arizona. On March 1, an MRI revealed that there was a partial tear of the UCL in his right elbow. On March 6, it was revealed that Perez had undergone Tommy John surgery and would miss the entire 2019 season.
On August 21, Pérez was placed on the 10-day injured list after experiencing lingering eye problems. He was reinstated later on September 11. Overall, Pérez batted .333 with 11 home runs and 32 RBIs in 37 games, while also winning his third Silver Slugger award.
Near the end of the 2013 season, teammate Alcides Escobar sprayed Pérez with Victoria's Secret women's perfume and he had four hits. Pérez continued to wear perfume during games as a good-luck charm, switching to 212 VIP cologne by Carolina Herrera in 2014.
Pérez delighted fans with his positive attitude and humorous postings on social media. In the 2014 and 2015 season, Pérez made a habit of playfully pestering teammate Lorenzo Cain by taking videos of him and posting them on Instagram.
On January 24, 2020, Pérez was naturalized as an American citizen, taking the oath of citizenship at the Royals' annual FanFest. On July 4, 2020, it was announced that Pérez had tested positive for COVID-19.