Small-Market Royals Bargain With Big Heart

SURPRISE, Ariz. — The Kansas City Royals had Salvador Perez, their All-Star catcher, under control through 2019 with the sweetest of sweetheart deals, one that even at its signing was among the most favorable to the club of any contract in baseball.

They decided to rip it up anyway.

In a move that Perez’s agent, Rick Thurman, said he had never experienced in all his years in baseball, the Royals gave Perez, a three-time Gold Glove winner, a five-year, $52.5 million contract that was tacked onto this year. It effectively replaced a laughable five-year, $7 million deal from 2012 that included three years of budget-friendly options.

“This was a really unique negotiation, I think for both of the sides,” Thurman said this week. “There’s a lot of teams that may not have done this.”

The Royals, the reigning World Series champions, have chosen to take an unusual approach to negotiations. They would rather reward players who outperform…

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