Buster Posey Rumors

West Notes: Dodgers, Aiken, Padres, Posey, Angels

The Dodgers will change their Triple-A affiliation from Albuquerque to the Oklahoma City RedHawks next season, Michael Baldwin of the Oklahoman reports. Oklahoma City is currently affiliated with the Astros. Mandalay Baseball Properties will reportedly sell the RedHawks to a group tied to the Dodgers for a sum in the $22MM to $28MM range. Baldwin writes that the Dodgers are trying to get out of Albuquerque, a difficult environment in which to evaluate prospects because its park is so favorable to hitters. The move is part of what could be a big shakeup in the Pacific Coast League, with the Athletics also moving from Sacramento to Nashville (currently a Brewers affiliate) and the Giants moving from Fresno to Sacramento. It’s unclear where the Astros and Brewers will end up in such a scenario. Here’s more from the West divisions.

  • Brady Aiken may have selected a junior college after being selected first overall and then going unsigned in a dispute with the Astros, MLB.com’s Jim Callis tweets. Aiken could end up at Yavapai JC in Arizona, which has helped develop future big-leaguers like Curt Schilling, Kole Calhoun, Bob Milacki, Billy Hatcher and Kyle Blanks.
  • Carlos Quentin is likely “on his way out” with the Padres, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes in a recent chat. Quentin is under contract for $8MM in 2015, but the Padres likely won’t want to keep him, given his struggles to stay healthy. (What they might do with him is a different question — it’s hard to imagine Quentin having much trade value, given that he’s hit poorly in limited action this season.) Seth Smith and Rymer Liriano are the only near-locks for spots in the San Diego outfield next year, Lin writes.
  • With Andrew Susac emerging as a potential starting option at catcher and Buster Posey showing signs of wear, the Giants might consider moving Posey to a new position in the future, Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News writes. The Giants have no plans to move Posey at this time, however. If Posey does eventually move, he will probably move to first base.
  • With Garrett Richards out for the rest of the season, the Angels will presumably be looking for pitching, and Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com has a list of pitchers who might be available. Given the obstacles to making August trades, perhaps it’s no surprise that it isn’t an incredibly inspiring list, with some of the better options possibly being either unwilling to play for the Angels (A.J. Burnett, who can block trades to West Coast teams) or unlikely to make it all the way to them on waivers (Mat Latos).

Quick Hits: Upton, Martin, Giants, Astros

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported over the weekend that the Braves explored a trade prior to the deadline that would’ve sent B.J. Upton and a starting pitcher elsewhere.  David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link) has another detail on this scuttled trade, saying that the Braves would’ve taken on “a contract [the] other team [was] looking to shed.”  It sounds like it would’ve essentially been a swap of one bad contract (the roughly $50MM owed to Upton through 2017) for another, though if Atlanta was willing to move a starter as well, the other contract was likely for a shorter term.  It’ll be interesting to see if the identities of the mystery team and mystery player are revealed in the coming weeks or months but until then, let the guessing game begin!

Here’s some more from around the baseball world…

  • Russell Martin‘s plan to take a short-term contract and rebuild his value for a richer, longer-term deal seems to have paid off, MLB.com’s Tom Singer and Stephen Pianovich write.  Martin has a .743 OPS over his two seasons with the Pirates and is hitting .290/.417/.391 over 308 PA this year, which makes him easily the most attractive catcher available in this winter’s free agent market.  Martin says he loves playing in Pittsburgh, though Singer/Pianovich note that the Bucs are unlikely to be able to afford his asking price and prospect Tony Sanchez is waiting in the wings.
  • The 2015 Giants could be improved by moving Buster Posey to third base and Tim Lincecum to the bullpen, Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News opines.  Lincecum’s value as a starter is diminishing but (as the 2012 postseason indicated) he could be a dominant force as a reliever or closer.  If Pablo Sandoval leaves in free agency, Kawakami argues that Posey could slide to third in order to help him stay healthy and perhaps lead to more production at the plate.  Posey already plays a lot of first base and Kawakami doesn’t mention another possibility I think the Giants could consider, which is trading Brandon Belt.
  • Speaking of next year’s Giants team, CSNBayArea.com’s Andrew Baggarly points out that at least $125MM is already committed to a roster that still has a big hole to address at second base and five key free agents (Sandoval, Michael Morse, Sergio Romo, Ryan Vogelsong, Jake Peavy) to re-sign or replace.  With payroll stretched so thin both this season and next, Baggarly says the team simply doesn’t have the resources to explore replacing struggling players like Lincecum or Brandon Crawford.
  • The Astros could return to respectability by adding a few veteran players in an attempt to follow the model of the 2003 Tigers, Grantland’s Jonah Keri opines.  Those Tigers responded to an infamous 119-loss season by signing veteran free agents over the next few years, who mixed well with a young core and led the team to an AL pennant by 2006.

NL West Notes: D’Backs, Tanaka, Hanley, Giants

The Diamondbacks consider Masahiro Tanaka to be their "No. 1 target" and are serious suitors for the Japanese ace, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports.  Had Arizona not acquired Mark Trumbo, the Snakes were open to spending the $140MM that agent Scott Boras said it would've taken to sign Shin-Soo Choo, and Rosenthal notes that D'Backs management could instead invest that money (the $20MM posting fee and a $120MM contract) towards landing Tanaka.  The D'Backs could have an extra source for information on Tanaka in the form of scout Rick Short, who played with Tanaka from 2007-09 on the Rakuten Golden Eagles.

You can click here for some Tanaka news from earlier today, and here are some more items from around the NL West…

  • Also from Rosenthal's piece, Arizona could be more motivated to sign an ace like Tanaka in free agency since they found the Cubs' and Rays' respective asking prices for Jeff Samardzija and David Price to be too high, Rosenthal notes, not to mention the fact that Price will become more expensive in his final two arbitration-eligible seasons.  The D'Backs rate Tanaka higher than other free agent arms like Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana.
  • Hanley Ramirez and the Dodgers have reportedly been discussing an extension this offseason and ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon looks at some of the factors involved in giving Ramirez a major new deal.
  • In a Giants-related mailbag, MLB.com's Chris Haft argues that the Giants should've given Brett Pill more time to prove himself rather than give those at-bats to Jeff Francoeur last summer.  Pill's rights were recently sold to the KIA Tigers of the Korean Baseball Organization and his deal with the club was just finalized today.  As Haft writes, "the sense here is that the Giants jettisoned Pill without fully discovering what they had in him."
  • Buster Posey is just one season into his multiyear extension with the Giants and he's still owed $157MM over the next eight seasons.  While it's far too early to place a verdict on this contract, Grant Brisbee of the McCovey Chronicles argues that the Giants may have saved money by locking Posey up last March as opposed to this offseason, as San Francisco might've had to offer their star catcher a nine- or even a ten-year deal in the $200MM threshold.


Quick Hits: Taveras, Profar, Posey, Zimmerman

In an interview with MLB Network Radio's Casey Stern and Jim Bowden (audio link), Cardinals GM John Mozeliak said that he would have to consider a hypothetical swap of Oscar Taveras and the Rangers' Jurickson Profar.  Mozeliak went on to say that while the club is well set in the outfield for years to come, they're not quite as strong in the middle infield.  Here's more from around baseball..

  • Since word of the Elvis Andrus extension leaked, the Rangers have received at least a couple of trade inquiries on Profar, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  However, Rangers people say they are as high on Profar as ever and have no intention or need to trade him.
  • Even though it's costly to secure insurance for baseball contracts, the Giants are looking into a policy for Buster Posey's lucrative deal, writes Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. An insurer might demand an exclusion for any injury related to the left ankle that he damaged in the 2011 collision with the Marlins' Scott Cousins
  • Nationals third baseman and Brodie Van Wagenen client Ryan Zimmerman is intrigued by Jay-Z's partnership with CAA, writes Bill Ladson of MLB.com.  “When you get a guy like [Jay-Z], who wants to get involved in baseball — he is obviously one of the icons of our generation for his music,” Zimmerman said. “I think he has become a very savvy and smart businessman. It will be interesting to see what happens and where it goes and how it goes."

Quick Hits: Red Sox, Posey, Cano, Indians

Pirates GM Neal Huntington and Rays GM Andrew Friedman claim that their decisions to leave Gerrit Cole (Pirates) and Wil Myers (Rays) in the minors to start the 2013 season were motivated not by service-time concerns, but by those players' readiness, MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo reports. Mayo says the scouts he's spoken to can't blame Huntington for sending Cole to Triple-A Indianapolis, since Cole has very limited experience at that level. Friedman, meanwhile, says that he needs to be sure a player is ready before having him compete in the tough AL East. "The AL East will expose very quickly any weaknesses that you have," he says. "So when we bring someone here, we need to feel that he's ready to step in and help us win right away."

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, in contrast, says his organization promoted Jackie Bradley Jr. to start the season — even though doing so could affect Bradley's timetable for free agency — because Bradley is one of the organization's 25 best players, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reports. "At the end, if there was that level of confidence that he was part of the best 25-man roster, then we felt he should be on the team. That’s part of our responsibility to the fans and to the organization," Cherington says. In addition, Cherington notes, the Red Sox begin their season with plenty of games within their division, and it's especially crucial that they do well in those games. Their first four series against the Yankees, Blue Jays, Orioles and Rays, all AL East opponents. Here are more notes from around the majors.

  • The Giants have locked up catcher Buster Posey with an eight-year, $159MM extension, but in Keith Law's latest podcast for ESPN, Posey's agent, Jeff Berry of Creative Artist Agency (CAA), contemplates what might have happened if Posey and the Giants had decided to go year-to-year through the arbitration system. Berry argues that Posey's situation would have been unique, because Posey has won an MVP and a Rookie of the Year award and has played for two World Series-winning teams, but after missing much of 2011 to injury, he doesn't have particularly impressive career bulk counting stats, which are a factor in arbitration hearings. "The challenge, first and foremost, in the arb system was looking at, 'Wow, this guy has accomplished things that no one else has ever done, but [among superstars in the arbitration process] he's also played less than anyone,'" Berry says.
  • Reacting to Robinson Cano's decision to fire Scott Boras and hire CAA and the rapper Jay-Z as his representation, one agent says that "Jay-Z doesn’t know s— about baseball," Michael O'Keeffe of the New York Daily News writes. "You don’t hire a real estate agent to do neurosurgery," the agent continues. O'Keeffe goes on to note that, of course, Jay-Z will not be negotiating a deal for Cano, who will be a free agent after the season. That duty will go to CAA, which represents Posey and a number of other MLB stars. Here are more reactions to Cano's agency switch.
  • This year's Indians are excited about the team's offseason spending spree, Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal reports. "Hats off to Chris Antonetti and the Dolan family, after losing 94 games [in 2012] they very easily could have folded up shop and said, 'Let’s wait for a few more young kids to develop and see what we’ve got,'" says Jason Giambi, who signed a minor-league deal with Cleveland in February. Instead, he says, "[t]hey went out and got some guys and spent some money. They put together a good ballclub, now we have to answer the bell and play good."
  • The Rangers had scouts watching pitcher Joba Chamberlain in spring training, but the Rangers and Yankees never ended up discussing a deal, George A. King III and Zach Braziller of the New York Post write. King and Braziller note that Chamberlain impressed the Yankees with a spring training performance that included nine strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings.

West Notes: Dodgers, Wells, Athletics, Angels

The nine top names to watch in Los Angeles baseball in 2013 include Chase Headley and Robinson Cano, argues Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Headley could be an in-season trade target for the Dodgers, and Cano will likely be connected to the Dodgers as a free agent next winter. Shaikin also suggests that if the Dodgers don't do well in 2013, they could try to hire Rays GM Andrew Friedman. Here are more notes from the West divisions.

  • The Mariners' decision to keep Jason Bay and designate Casper Wells for assignment doesn't make sense, Jeff Sullivan of USS Mariner says. Sullivan notes that Wells is younger, had four years of team control remaining, and has recently been the better player on both offense and defense — and the Mariners will likely lose him for virtually nothing. "Wells, probably, is going to end up getting traded to a team with a thin outfield in exchange for a non-roster barely-prospect," Sullivan says. Sullivan also points out that Wells was one of the key players in the Doug Fister deal with the Tigers. The Tigers already looked like clear winners in that trade, but it's even clearer now.
  • The Giants' signing of Buster Posey to an eight-year, $159MM contract demonstrates the inequities between the Giants and the Athletics, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. The Giants have opposed the Athletics' move to San Jose. "It's more than mildly ironic that the Giants granted a single player a contract that exceeds the A's entire payroll by a factor of three," says San Jose City Councilman Sam Liccardo.
  • The trade of Vernon Wells to the Yankees gave the Angels additional payroll flexibility, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com writes. The deal leaves the Angels about $6MM under the luxury tax threshold, Gonzalez reports.

Quick Hits: Rangers, Posey, Dodgers

Here are a few more notes from around baseball:

  • Former Rangers hurler C.J. Wilson discussed the "communication issues" with the Texas front office that, he says, led him and other free agents to leave the club, reports Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com. "When you're a free agent and the team that you're with tells you that they don't think you're that good or whatever, it doesn't give you any incentive to sign back," said Wilson. "They've played the whole wait-and-see card. It didn't really work with [Josh] Hamilton and it didn't work with me, either."  A glance at MLBTR's Extension Tracker shows that Texas has been willing to pay its own in some circumstances, giving large extensions to players like Matt Harrison, Ian Kinsler, and Derek Holland.
  • The Giants entered their huge extension with backstop Buster Posey knowing that there is a good chance he will have to change positions, writes ESPN's Buster Olney. Posey, a former shortstop, could be moved to third or first in as few as two years, notes Olney. In the meantime, the club can let the situation evolve and see what happens with talented younger players like Brandon Belt and Pablo Sandoval. For his part, Posey says he would be willing to change positions if "it's something that'll help the team," but that his "passion is being behind the plate,"tweets John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle.
  • There are a dozen big league skippers on the hot seat this season, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  Don Mattingly of the Dodgers, Mike Scioscia of the Angels, and Terry Collins of the Mets all made Rosenthal's list.

Zach Links contributed to this post.


Giants Extend Buster Posey

Buster Posey said that he wanted to be a Giant for life, and he got his wish with a record-breaking deal that can keep him in San Francisco through his age 36 season.  The Giants signed the star catcher to an eight-year, $159MM extension that will get underway after the 2013 season.  In total, the new deal will pay the CAA client $167MM over nine years with a $22MM option for 2022, since it overwrites his previously agreed-upon 2013 salary.  

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The 26-year-old gets a $7MM signing bonus as part of the deal and will receive a $3MM buyout if his option year is not triggered. The hefty contract extension also provides the catcher with a full no-trade clause.  The breakdown has Posey earning $3MM in 2013, $10.5MM in 2014, $16.5MM in '15, $20MM in '16, and $21.4MM per season from 2017-2021.

In his young MLB career, Posey has won the Rookie of the Year award, two World Series titles, and the 2012 National League MVP award.  Across four seasons, Posey owns a .314/.380/.503 batting line and is coming off of a season where he belted a career high 24 homers.  

Posey's contract covers his three remaining years of arbitration and five years of free agency, plus an option that could take care of a sixth free agency year.  Before this contract, no catcher had earned more than Mike Napoli's $20.8MM for his arbitration years, and Posey nearly triples that.  His $57MM arbitration total is third-highest all-time, behind Ryan Howard and Tim Lincecum.  Posey's contract is the largest deal ever given to a catcher and second in dollars to Joe Mauer's eight-year, $184MM deal with the Twins.  The contract also marks a record guarantee for a player with fewer than four years of service time.  The previous holder of that distinction was Todd Helton, who had an eleven-year deal worth $151.45MM.

The Giants' deal with Posey represents their second consecutive year with a major contract extension completed just prior to Opening Day.  Last year, right-hander Matt Cain - also represented by CAA's Jeff Berry – cashed in with a five-year, $112.5MM pact.  For Berry, this deal is just the latest on a resume full of lucrative extensions.  As MLBTR's Extension Tracker shows, he has recently ironed out deals for clients Mark Buehrle, Jake Peavy, and John Danks.

Terms of the deal were provided by Buster Olney of ESPN.com (on Twitter) while Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com tweeted the value of the option year.  John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter), Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter), and the AP reported other details of the agreement.  Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Buster Posey, Giants In Serious Talks

The Giants and catcher Buster Posey are in serious discussions about a long-term deal, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  We first learned last week that Posey and the Giants have been discussing a lengthy deal with Posey hoping to become a Giant for life.

A ten-year deal would not be out of the question, according to Heyman, and the two sides have been trying to hammer something out by Opening Day.  A ten-year deal that begins in 2013 would buy out six of Posey's free agent seasons and would cost well over $100MM.  This winter marked Posey's first time through the arbitration process and the clubs avoided a hearing with a $8MM salary for 2013.

Posey is a super two player and is scheduled to go to arbitration three more times.  As it stands, the catcher will be eligible for free agency following the 2016 season.  In parts of four MLB seasons, the 25-year-old has a .314/.380/.503 batting line, two World Series titles, a Rookie of the Year award, and an MVP award.

The Giants reached agreement on a deal with star pitcher Matt Cain just prior to Opening Day 2012 that gave Cain an additional $112.5MM over five years.


Olney On Chapman, Dodgers, Cabrera, Tigers

"[Aroldis] Chapman stands to lose millions of dollars by committing himself to a relief role," writes ESPN's Buster Olney in his latest column (Insider subscription required).  The fact that Chapman likes closing enough to risk these future riches, however, makes Olney think the Reds are making the right move by keeping Chapman in the bullpen as the club pursues a World Series title.  "Chapman doesn't have a plow horse's show-me-the-direction approach; he's known to be a complicated guy, and if he were to fight [starting] internally all year, it would be a mess," Olney says.

Here are some more items from Olney…

  • Rival executives think Asdrubal Cabrera will be on the trade block if the Indians get off to a slow start.  Olney speculates that the Dodgers could be players for Cabrera in the wake of Hanley Ramirez's thumb injury, though for now the Dodgers are satisfied to use internal options on the left side of their infield.
  • The Tigers "have not made a single specific proposal to another team, asking for a particular player" in exchange for Rick Porcello.  Detroit has told teams that they will listen to offers for the right-hander but only in exchange for Major League players, not prospects.  Several teams have been linked to Porcello, with the Padres and Rangers showing the most recent interest.
  • "Nothing is close" between the Giants and Buster Posey on a long-term extension.  We heard earlier this week that the two sides were still deciding the length of the possible new contract.  Olney believes that Joey Votto's recent extension with the Reds could be a model for Posey's new deal since Posey is athletic enough to handle playing third base or first base later his career.