Extension Candidate: Buster Posey

The first order of business for Buster Posey this season was to prove himself healthy following a 2011 campaign cut short after 45 games due to a fractured fibula.  Not only did that home plate collision with Scott Cousins cost Posey most of a season, it also may have cost him some money in the short-term, as the Giants may have wished to quickly sign him to a multiyear extension. Uspw_6440026

Ironically, Posey's injury may make him a wealthier man in the long-term.  Posey had a .756 OPS when he was injured in 2011, so supposing he'd stayed healthy and stayed at that more modest number (call it a sophomore slump), the Giants might have been able to sign Posey to an extension akin to Carlos Santana's five-year, $21MM deal with the Indians. 

That scenario will remain a hypothetical, however, as Posey has returned from injury with an MVP-caliber .328/.394/.542 batting line and 18 home runs over 409 plate appearances entering Wednesday's action. This performance has only strengthened Posey's case as the best-hitting catcher in the game and now he'll have an even higher price tag should the Giants look to lock him up.

Posey will reach arbitration for the first time this winter and he'll have four arb years in total as a Super Two player, leaving him under Giants control through the 2016 season.  MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith opined that Posey would likely be in line for a salary between $2-$3MM for 2013, and at Posey's current rate of production, I'd guess that $3MM will be at the low end of his 2013 salary.

The Super Two status makes Posey a unique case, as while several notable catchers (such as Santana, Brian McCann, Yadier Molina and Joe Mauer) have signed extensions that covered their arb years, none of these players had that fourth year of arbitration.  Also, none of these players signed their extensions with between 2-3 years of MLB service, as Posey will have at the conclusion of this season.

Perhaps the closest comparison is Mauer, who signed a four-year, $33MM extension with the Twins before the 2007 season that covered his three arb years and his first free agent season.  Mauer had a career line of .321/.399/.471 with 28 homers through his first 1284 plate appearances before signing his extension; Posey currently has a a 307/.369/.492 career line and 40 homers through 1054 plate appearances and should make up that gap in PAs by the end of the season.

Mauer's deal broke down as $20.5MM for his three arb years and $12.5MM for his first year of free agency.  If we use $3MM as the baseline for Posey's 2013 salary, I could see the Giants offering something like a five-year deal worth around $47MM for their star catcher.  The salaries would break down as $3MM in 2013, $6MM in 2014, $9MM in 2015 and $12MM for 2016 to cover the arb years, and Posey would then earn $17MM for the 2017 season, which would've been his first free agent year.  Posey will turn 31 years old in March 2018, so he'd still be young enough to net another big contract in free agency.

There's also the possibility that Posey and agent Jeff Berry would look to go even longer-term in San Francisco.  A seven-year deal — worth $17MM and $20MM, respectively, for 2018 and 2019 — would bring the total value to $84MM.  That's a big contract for any player and especially for a catcher, though the Giants have already looked to keep Posey fresh with occasional starts at first base.  If Posey can keep up his current .935 OPS, that's certainly enough pop to play at first base (particularly at AT&T Park) and be worthy of that type of major financial commitment.     

A seven-year, $84MM contract would be the third-most expensive deal ever given to a catcher, behind Mauer's eight-year, $184MM extension with the Twins and Mike Piazza's seven-year, $91MM deal with the Mets from 1999-2005.

Since the Giants do have four years of control to work with, it's possible they just settle on a one-year deal with Posey this offseason and save extension talks for a later date.  Still, the Giants face some interesting payroll issues — Melky Cabrera will be a free agent and the newly-acquired Hunter Pence is going into his last arb year (the Giants claim to be able to extend both), not to mention potential tough decisions about franchise icons like Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson.  Posey is a player the Giants obviously want in the fold for years to come so they might look to get some cost certainty on his future salaries before looking at other business.

Photo courtesy of Kelley L. Cox/US Presswire

16 Responses to Extension Candidate: Buster Posey Leave a Reply

  1. jfretless 3 years ago

    Good read, well written. Thanks!

  2. 55saveslives 3 years ago

    Eleventy billion dollars and rename the park Posey Park and make everyone be able to pass level 2 of Buster Bash!

    • it took me FOREVER to pass level 2. but i did it.

      • rainyperez 3 years ago

        I’m on it right now I can’t get a good swing going ;/

        1st level I just swipe and arc to do well but the 2nd one I can’t get over the fence consistently. Any pointers?

  3. Lunchbox45 3 years ago

    Well then.. he’s kinda good isn’t he

  4. rainyperez 3 years ago

    One way or another if he keeps producing like this or close to this rate he will be awarded the largest contract for a catcher in the history of the MLB.

    Dude has more power than Mauer and conceivably could’ve knocked in more HRs if that horrific injury in 2011 didn’t happen.

    And don’t get me wrong Mauer is a beast but Posey is picking up the mantle of great catchers coming out of the NL Bench, Y. Molina, Piazza, Mccann, and Torre.

  5. Drew Tweedie 3 years ago

    I knew Posey was having a good year, but wow.

  6. WillieMaysField 3 years ago

    Solid article Mark. The Giant have time with Posey, but after the Timmy arb/contract situation they’ll want to sign Posey sooner rather than later.

    The Pence trade to me signals Melky won’t be back. Pence is scheduled to make 13-15M next year. Pagan is a free agent also. No way they sign all three.

    Wilson I thinks gets non-tendered and offered a 5m base with insentives.

    • I think they can sign all 3, but if they don’t, pagan is the odd one out. If anything, the giants can backload the Melky contract for when Zito/Lincecum come off the books. Rowand’s 13 mill are off the books, some other guys that probably won’t be resigned, F sanchez (6 mill), probably affeldt (4.5mill) especially since they got another lefty reliever from KC who is under team control.

      • rainyperez 3 years ago

        It’s about 30 million or so. Rowand, Huff, Sanchez, and Affeldt plus a little bump in payroll if the FO is true to their word. Hopefully Zito doesn’t reach his innings for next year or his option activates otherwise its Zito’s last season.

        I believe they’ll sign Cabrera to a 5 year, Pence to a 3 year, and Pagan is the question mark?

        If they don’t sign Pagan they could go after value options retain Blanco or Sabean go into the scrap heap again to find something.

        • HummBaby 3 years ago

          Actually the Giants have close to $50 million coming off the books this offseason. Rowand=$12m, Fontenot=$250k in back payments, Huff=$8m (after factoring in $2m buyout for 2013), Wilson=$8.5m, Sanchez=$6m, Affeldt=$5m, Pagan=$4.85m, Casilla=$2.2m, Romo=$1.575m, Theriot=$1.25m, Mota=$1m. I left off all the misc. under $1m amounts which would add up to a couple million in itself. If they resign Romo, Affeldt and Casilla that should eat up $10m leaving them 40 million or so to play with.

          • rainyperez 3 years ago

            Giants owe Wilson, Romo, Pence, Posey, and Casilla arbitration.

            Posey gets a hefty raise regardless.

            Romo should get a raise to about $2-3 million based on his performance the past couple of seasons.

            Casilla should be around or a little lower than Romo.

            Pence is due for about $13-14 million give or take.

            Giants should non-tender Wilson and sign him to a value based contract.

          • $17867741 3 years ago

            If you non-tender a player, they become a free agent. In the open
            market, I would expect Wilson to still receive around $8.5m so I don’t
            think it’s worth the risk.

          • rainyperez 3 years ago

            The point that non-tender is not to pay the arbitration that is owed and gives payroll flexibility.

            He will not get the 8.5 if he hits the market after his 2nd TJ surgery. I think Wilson can recover because of his work ethic but the chances of recovering from 2 TJ surgeries are pretty low.

            If he does accept go to another team after being non-tendered so be it. I rather the Giants not pay what they’re going to owe him in arbitration in hoping he’ll regain form.

    • Jon Muniz 3 years ago

      They could sign all three. But they shouldn’t. Pagan was good but Blanco is a better player, and he’s cheaper too. Scuturo and Theriot are cheap fillers until Panik is major league ready and really Blanco is the same thing for Brown

  7. WillieMaysField 3 years ago

    Timmy I think goes home to Seattle after next year.

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