Royals sign C Salvador Perez

SURPRISE, ARIZ. -- Salvador Perez wants to play in Kansas City for a long time, and the Royals are going to give him that chance.

The 21-year-old catcher agreed to a five-year contract worth $7 million on Monday. The contract includes club options for three more years that could keep Perez with the Royals through the 2019 season.

"I'm very happy," Perez said. "I want to play in Kansas City for 20 years."

Perez made his major league debut on Aug. 10 and hit .331 with eight doubles, two triples, three home runs and 21 RBIs in 39 games. He has been chosen as the best defensive catcher in the Royals' organization the past three years.

"The first time I laid eyes on Sal, it took me about two days to realize he was special," said Royals manager Ned Yost, a former big league catcher. "I've been in this game a long time. I've seen hundreds of catchers come through and I've never seen one like him. He's a very, very rare find.

"You can't find a catcher that has his athleticism, his ability to play defense at a high premium on a major league level. You're not going to find a kid who has the ability to swing the bat like he does. And more impressive than anything else is his leadership skills and his ability to call a game. He's the total package."

Perez, who is from Venezuela, was signed by the Royals as a non-drafted free agent on Sept. 27, 2006. He said he was planning to call his mother, Yilda, on Monday night to tell her about his new multiyear contract.

"I'm going to take it slow when I tell her because she might die or something," Perez said with a chuckle. "She may not sleep."

General manager Dayton Moore said there was a willingness on both sides to work out the long-term deal.

"It's very important to get as many of our good players signed long term as possible," Moore said. "It gives Salvador some security. It gives us some cost certainty going forward. It's a premium position. It's probably one of the toughest positions in all of athletics to perform. We feel like we've got a very special player here."