Backing Up the Money Truck for Buster Posey
December 11, 2012 § Leave a comment
UPDATE: In addition to the 1 year/8 million dollar contract agreement to avoid arbitration, the Giants extend the contract by nine years/159 million dollars. Gerald Demps Posey does not become a free agent until 2023. Full contract info here.
After taking a Scott Cousins to the ankle in a home plate collision, catcher Buster Posey missed the rest of the 2011 season. The San Francisco Giants and their fans realized how valuable he is to the team when the team did not make the playoffs. Before the start of the 2012 season, people weren’t sure how manager Bruce Bochy would employ his young catcher, while others had conservative estimates of Buster’s contributions to the team.
Would he be able to play almost a full season, at catcher or another position (he played shortstop before converting to catcher full-time at Florida State)? Would he able to produce offensively? What would the Giants’ front office do to avert anymore situations that would endanger their best player? Would he be able to keep Pablo Sandoval’s weight down, whisper sweet nothings to aid Aubrey Huff and Brandon Belt and help Tim Lincecum pitch better (LOL)?
Okay, I made the last part up but by 2012, Buster Posey was two years removed from making former starting catcher Bengie Molina expendable. Posey was one of the main reasons why the San Francisco Giants won their first championship since the franchise moved to San Francisco from New York. Fans had a right to be a little nervous in terms of how the face of the franchise will perform.
Buster Posey split time at catcher and first base, playing a total of 148 games, starting 111 at catcher, 29 at first base, 3 at designated hitter and making five pinch-hitting appearances. He called the signals for many of Ryan Vogelsong’s, Madison Bumgarner’s and Matt Cain’s starts. Meanwhile, Hector Sanchez and Eli Whiteside handled 18 of 33 Tim Lincecum’s regular season starts starts (16 by Hector, 2 by Eli) and Sanchez played Barry Zito’s personal catcher, catching 84 mph fastballs and 12-to-6 curveballs in 25 of 33 Barry Zito starts. 148 games was a lot of playing time for a player coming back from a severe ankle injury. Manager Bochy ordered Posey to not block the plate when applying tags on defense. This change to keep him out from harm’s way did not really affect his defense or his offense. Speaking of offense…
Buster Posey set conservative guesstimates of his offensive output ablaze with stats no one saw coming.
Posey finished the season as NL batting champion, becoming the first catcher to lead their respective league in hitting since Joe Mauer in 2009 and before Mauer, Hall of Famer Ernie Lombardi in 1942. He finished with a slash line of .336/.408/.549. Even more amazing was how ridiculously hot he got after the All Star break. His first half averages? .289/.362/.468. Second half? .385/.456/.646. Only three players have had better second half averages. You may have heard of them before:
Barry Bonds (2002), Larry Walker (1999), George Brett (1980). May the Lord continue to have mercy on the baseballs hit by these men.
Add in 24 home runs, 103 runs batted in and an untimely 50-game absence of Melky Cabrera and you’re looking at an overall leader, along with the emergence of newcomers Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro that paced the Giants throughout the regular season and beyond.
In 2.162 years of service time, Buster Posey has a reconstructed left ankle, a Silver Slugger, an NL MVP award and two World Series rings. That is exactly why Buster Posey will be paid a s**t ton of money soon.
Arbitration is a period where teams can keep their players for longer and possibly sign their players before they get too expensive. However, it is also a time when players can negotiate a higher salary due to past performances. While continuing to negotiate one-year deals for higher salaries, a long-term deal that covers the arbitration years and the beginning of free agency allows the players to enjoy job security (unless you play for the Marlins). Buster Posey earned $615,000 in 2012. Heading into the 2013 season, he stands to earn much more.
Buster Posey’s Contract Situation
MLB Trade Rumors predicted that Buster Posey’s one-year deal in 2013 would be worth ~$5.9 million dollars, if both sides can come to an agreement before arbitration hearings. Now, general manager Brian Sabean has an interesting dilemma here. He can either negotiate a one-year deal to lock up Posey’s services and negotiate a long-term contract later, or start discussing a long-term contract now. The problem with the first option is that if GM Sabean continues to seek short-term, one-year deals after handing out the first one, Posey’s value could inflate very fast towards a prohibitive number, similar to the situation of Lincecum, who stands to earn $22 million dollars in 2013 and despite a shaky 2012, looks to test the free-agent market when his contract expires. The second option still requires spending a lot of money to ensure that Posey stays in a Giants uniform for a very long time, although the subsequent raises won’t jump to $20 million automatically.
Between other young, skilled catchers such as Indians’ Carlos Santana, Braves’ Brian McCann, Cardinals’ Yadier Molina (younger brother of Bengie) and the aforementioned Twins’ Joe Mauer, they do not have four years of arbitration like Buster Posey, a super-two player (players with at least 86 days of being on a big league rosters in the previous season and among the top 22% of players in service time with at least two but less than three years of time on the big league rosters). They also don’t have two World Series rings and an MVP trophy after their first three years at the major league level. The closest comparison would be Mauer, whose first extension for 4 years/$33 million spanned across all three of his arbitration years and his first year of free agency. Mauer, a three-time batting champion would later go on to sign another extension for 8 years/$184 million (23 million a year).
With his resume, Buster Posey deserves to earn a lot more money. Whether he earns that money from the Giants or another team (;___;) remains to be seen.
Currently though, WHO’S GOT IT BETTER THAN US? Not Melky.