Salvador Perez signed a club-friendly deal with the Royals four years ago in part so his mother, Yilda, would no longer have to work in their increasingly violent hometown in Venezuela.
Now, Perez hopes he can move her to the U.S. permanently.
The Royals signed the All-Star catcher to a contract through 2021 on Tuesday that guarantees him an additional $52.5 million US over five seasons. The deal was announced two days after Yilda had her SUV stolen at gunpoint on the way to the market—she was unharmed and the vehicle was later recovered by the police.
"It feels like a family here," Perez said. "Hopefully I can play the rest of my career here, be one of these guys like Frank White and George Brett."
The 25-year-old Perez is set to make $2 million this season, the final guaranteed year of a deal signed in 2012 that included club options for 2017-19. His new deal includes a $6 million signing bonus and salaries of $3 million next season, $7.5 million in 2018, $10 million in 2019 and $13 million each in 2020 and 2021.
"Every player is different, every negotiation is unique and we take them on a case-by-case basis," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "We felt this was something that would take place in time."
Perez signed with the Royals as a 16-year-old prospect but shot through the minor league system. He made his big league debut in 2011, became the everyday backstop the following season and has been voted to the All-Star game each of the past three years.
He hit .260 with a career-best 21 homers and 70 RBIs last season, helping the Royals to their second consecutive World Series appearance. They beat the Mets in five games for their first title since 1985, and he was the MVP.
More championships ahead?
Perez is the second homegrown star to agree to a long-term deal with Kansas City this off-season, joining All-Star outfielder Alex Gordon, who signed a $72 million, four-year contract in January.
The popular narrative is that the Royals have a two-year window to win because star players such as Eric Hosmer can reach free agency after the 2017 season. But the decision to sign Perez – even though he was under club control – shows Moore is willing to pay to keep the foundations of the club intact.
Perez signed a five-year, $7 million deal before the 2012 season, a deal even at the time considered exceedingly club-friendly. But he chose to accept the deal in part so that his mother would no longer have to work in their increasingly violent Venezuelan neighbourhood.
After her carjacking Sunday, the affable catcher is hopeful she can stay in the U.S. permanently.
"I still love my country. I'm from Venezuela," he said. "We've got bad places everywhere in the world — there's going to be good people and bad people — but in Venezuela it's a little more."