Buster Posey Rumors

NL West Notes: Dodgers, Hernandez, Rockies, Posey

Earlier today we heard that the Padres haven't settled on a long-term strategy for third baseman Chase Headley. They'll hold onto him for now, but could trade or extend him later in 2013. Here are more notes from the Padres' division…

Zach Links and Steve Adams contributed to this post.

Rosenthal On Posey, Dodgers, Yankees

Yesterday Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that the Mariners are at least considering a four-year, $100MM extension offer for Felix Hernandez. Rosenthal has another round of rumors at FOXSports.com today. Here are some highlights…

  • Buster Posey and the Giants have mutual interest in reaching a long-term deal, but there’s no urgency to complete an extension. Rosenthal estimates that a seven-year, $120MM deal on top of Posey’s $8MM salary for 2013 could work for both sides.
  • Though the Dodgers denied Don Mattingly’s request for increased job security, team officials rave about the manager privately and dispute that he’s a ‘lame duck.’ However, Rosenthal guesses that the team will address the matter before too long to preserve Mattingly’s authority. This time, they probably won’t announce the length of their agreement in an attempt to avoid future scrutiny.
  • The Yankees intend to lower their payroll below $189MM by 2014, but the financial incentives in place for doing so might not be as strong as initially anticipated. The team could end up obtaining less than expected from the new market-disqualification revenue-sharing program, as Rosenthal explains. However, Yankees officials say the team’s offseason strategy has been influenced by available players rather than maneuverings based on the sport’s collective bargaining agreement.

Giants, Buster Posey Avoid Arbitration

The Giants and Buster Posey avoided arbitration with a one-year, $8MM contract, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Twitter links). CAA represents Posey.

Posey was arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason. His resume includes two World Series titles and the 2012 MVP award, so MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected a $5.9MM salary for him in 2013. Swartz examined Posey's case in detail earlier in the month, explaining how a salary that high is possible for a first time eligible player. Posey, a super two, remains under team control through 2016.

The Giants are expected to discuss an extension with Posey this winter, Schulman reported earlier in the week. Today's agreement won't prevent the sides from having discussions about a long-term deal. Instead, it provides a starting point for future negotiations.

Giants Expected To Discuss Extension With Posey

At 25 years of age, Buster Posey already has a Rookie of the Year award, a National League MVP and a National League batting title under his belt. The young phenom has helped propel the Giants to a pair of World Series titles, and according to Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Giants expect to discuss a "blockbuster" extension with Posey at some point this spring (Twitter link).

In 308 Major League games, Posey has a .318/.384/.503 batting line with 46 home runs. A Super Two player, Posey is eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason and won't hit free agency until 2017. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a $5.9MM salary for Posey in his first go-around with arbitration.

Posey currently has two years, 161 days of Major League service time. However, as the reigning NL MVP and a two-time World Series winner, he's in line for considerably more than players like Robinson Cano, Jay Bruce and Joe Mauer received when they signed extensions with two-to-three years of service time.

Given his projected 2013 salary of $5.9MM, Posey's four arbitration years could likely be bought out for somewhere in the $36-40MM range. Marquee players like Evan Longoria and David Wright each recently received roughly $17MM per free agent season in their extensions. If Posey's free agent years command a similar price (which would seem fair for both sides), an extension could approach the $136-138MM range that Longoria and Wright signed for. Of course, that's dependent on how many free agent years GM Brian Sabean would be able to secure for the Giants.

Posey is represented by Jeff Berry of CAA Sports, who has recently worked out significant contracts for clients such as Mark Buehrle, Jake Peavy and John Danks, among others. An extension for Posey, however, figures to be substantially larger.

Thanks to Ben Nicholson-Smith for contributing to this post.

Quick Hits: Posey, Gonzalez, Giambi, Urbina, Pirates

Buster Posey is eligible for arbitration for the first time off the heels of his MVP campaign.  The Giants would obviously like to lock the catcher up for the foreseeable future, but the club has yet to begin contract discussions with agent Jeff Berry, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter).  For more on Posey's unique case, check out Matt Swartz's arbitration breakdown.  Here's more from around baseball..

  • Michael Gonzalez's one-year, $2.25MM contract with the Brewers could pay him up to an additional $400K in performance bonuses, according to the Associated Press.  Gonzalez will earn $50K for 25 games finished, $75K each for 30 and 35, and $100K apiece for 40 and 50.  The reliever told reporters today that he prefers to be called Michael rather than Mike, according to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com (via Twitter).
  • Jason Giambi is working out and told Troy Renck of the Denver Post (on Twitter) that he hopes to play this season.  The 42-year-old will likely have to go to camp with a club on a minor league deal.  Giambi was said to be drawing interest from three or four teams in early December.
  • Ugueth Urbina threw live batting practice in Venezuela yesterday and former Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen was on hand to scout for several teams, writes Luis Carlos Gonzalez of El Nacional.  "I told people from the Marlins, where I left behind some friends, and other teams, that Urbina was going to take the mound, and they told me to go see him," Guillen said (translation courtesy of Nick Collias).  Guillen added that Urbina looked good, though he needs to "keep working".
  • Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd) looked at five GMs that could be on the hotseat in 2013, including Neal Huntington of the Pirates and Royals GM Dayton Moore.
  • If the Pirates do not finalize their deal with Francisco Liriano, reliever-turned-starter Chris Leroux is another option for the rotation, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.  Liriano suffered an arm injury in December, leading the Bucs give second thought to the two-year, $12.75MM agreement.

NL Notes: D’backs, Rafael Soriano, Posey, Marlins

Seven years ago today, the Diamondbacks came to terms with Justin Upton, the first overall selection in the 2005 amateur draft, on a five-year, $6.1MM contract. The deal marked the largest signing bonus given in a minor league contract for a drafted player, who was not a free agent. Today, Upton is the prime trade target of the offseason. Just within the last 24 hours, we learned there is no match with the Padres, the Braves haven't engaged in Upton talks since before Christmas, and speculation that a deal will happen as soon as Arizona is offered the right mix of players. In non-Upton news involving the Diamondbacks and the rest of the Senior Circuit:

Arbitration Breakdown: Buster Posey

Over the next few weeks, I will be discussing some of the higher profile upcoming arbitration cases. I will rely partly on my arbitration model developed exclusively for MLB Trade Rumors (read more about it here), but will also break out some interesting comparables and determine where the model might be wrong.

Buster Posey is eligible for arbitration for the first time in 2013, conveniently right after a successful MVP campaign. Posey also won the batting title in 2012, along with a Rookie of the Year Award in 2010. Despite the MVP, Posey is not the typical slugger who gets handsomely rewarded compared to other players in arbitration. He "only" had 24 home runs and 103 RBI in 2012, though he did hit .336 in 610 plate appearances. Due to an injury in 2011 and the fact that Posey reaches arbitration as a super two, he only had 645 plate appearances going into his platform season along with a .294 average, 22 home runs, and 88 runs batted in. What makes Posey’s situation unique is that he has a healthier trophy case than anyone else to reach arbitration in recent years, but fewer plate appearances going into his platform year than most others to get larger salaries. Even though the only other player in the last six years to have an MVP and a ROY before his first year of arbitration (Ryan Howard) earned $10MM, there was no player with as few career plate appearances as Posey to ever earn more than $3.75MM. My model has the CAA client well between these two extremes, projected to earn $5.9MM.

Posey figures to earn far less than Ryan Howard’s $10MM for several reasons. Not only did Howard have 1094 previous plate appearances, but he was also a power hitter coming off a 47 home run season. Power numbers matter to panels a lot more than other skills, so Posey will not be able to argue for more than Howard’s $10MM. There are two other players in the last six years to have MVP awards before reaching arbitration, Joey Votto (who got $8MM in 2011) and Justin Morneau ($4.5MM in 2007). Votto was coming off a .324 average, 37 home runs, and 113 runs batted in 648 plate appearances and also had 1222 PA before his platform season, in which he accumulated 53 HR, 185 RBIs, and hit .310. Votto also had 16 stolen bases in his platform year and 12 in previous seasons, while Posey is not a base stealer. This all combines to suggest Posey will fall short of Votto’s $8MM. Morneau’s $4.5MM seems low. Firstly, the fact that it is now a comparable that is over six years old makes it unlikely to be a fair comparison, but Morneau also only had a .248 average going into his platform year, making his .321/34/130 performance that year seem more anomalous. Posey, on the other hand, had won Rookie of the Year during his pre-platform tenure.

In more common cases, Posey would be more likely to be compared to other catchers. However, he has a clearly superior case than any of the catchers with whom he would be compared. The largest first-time arbitration award given to a catcher went to Russell Martin in 2009 at $3.9MM. Martin was only coming off a .280/13/69 platform season (though with 18 SB) in 650 plate appearances , although he did have 1088 PA prior to his platform season. The lack of an MVP award suggests that Martin’s salary is a very obvious floor for Posey. Joe Mauer’s 2007 case might be the most similar to Posey, although he did not have an MVP award. However, Mauer did have a batting title in 2006, hitting .347 in 608 plate appearances , and also has a pre-platform season injury in common with Posey. Mauer had just 676 plate appearances before his platform season, similar to Posey’s 645. Mauer ended up signing a multi-year deal in which he earned $3.75MM in 2007, but before that, Mauer and the Twins had exchanged figures of $3.3 and $4.5MM, so $3.75MM seems like they settled effectively in the middle and then added a few years on. Of course, this case is probably “stale” and isn’t a great comparison for Posey, but it also suggests that Posey should successfully finish with well over $4MM. No catchers other than Martin and Mauer have gotten more than $2.15MM in the last six years, so those two would be the only plausible comparisons.

Expanding beyond catchers and MVPs, I looked through the last six years to find anyone who had 20 HR, 80 RBI, and a .300 average, regardless of whether they had won any awards or what position they played. Only one player had more than $4.84MM: Miguel Cabrera at $7.4MM in 2007. Obviously, that case is now stale but it does provide a useful comparison to Posey. Cabrera had just hit .339/26/114 in 676 plate appearances , while he had a .300 average entering his platform season in 1067 PA, along with 78 HR and 290 RBI. The platform season looks very similar season to Posey’s, while the previous seasons look much better. On top of that, Cabrera already had 3 years and 101 days of service time by his first year of arbitration, compared with Posey’s 2 years and 161 days. Further, even though Cabrera didn’t have an MVP award yet, he did have three all-star appearances already and had back-to-back fifth place finishes in MVP races. Posey will probably earn less than Cabrera’s $7.4MM. The other guys on the list of .300/20/80 first-time eligibles included Chase Utley who got $4.84MM in 2007 as part of a multi-year deal and Garrett Atkins who got $4.46MM in 2008. More recently, Shin-Soo Choo got $3.975MM in 2011. All three players seem to have inferior cases to Posey’s, which provides further reason to expect Posey to obtain at least $5MM.

Other elite players to get large deals in recent years include Prince Fielder’s $7.5MM, Hanley Ramirez’s $5.55MM in 2009 (both as part of multi-year deals), and Dan Uggla’s $5.35MM in 2009. Uggla had 1411 plate appearances prior to his platform season, but his .260/32/92 platform season suggests Posey should be able to top him. Getting even further from plausible comparables, we can at least look at pitchers who got big awards—the only pitchers to get over $5MM were Lincecum and Kershaw ($9 and $7.75MM as part of multi-year deals), and relievers Jonathan Papelbon and Bobby Jenks ($6.25 and $5.6MM as one-year deals in 2009). These pitchers won't come up as comps in Posey's case.

Posey’s case is clearly unique. It seems like anything between $4.5 and $7.4MM is possible, and my model coincidentally ends up splitting the difference almost exactly at $5.9MM. I think Uggla’s $5.35MM is too low, but not by much, so something in the $6MM range makes sense for Posey.

Giants Rumors: Posey, Pence, Casilla, Wilson

Here's the latest on the World Champion San Francisco Giants…

  • "We are open to the idea," said GM Brian Sabean when asked about a long-term contract extension for Buster Posey, though he said they were "not necessarily" open to the idea with Hunter Pence. John Shea of The San Francisco Chronicle and Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com passed along the quotes (Twitter links).
  • The Giants have had conceptual talks about a multiyear deal with reliever Santiago Casilla, reports Baggarly (on Twitter). The team is not active in any trade discussions, Sabean confirmed.
  • Brian Wilson is unlikely to re-sign with the Giants if and when he gets non-tendered, hears Hank Schulman of The San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter).

Miguel Cabrera, Buster Posey Win League MVP Awards

Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera and Giants catcher Buster Posey were announced as the winners of the Most Valuable Player Awards in the AL and NL, respectively, the Baseball Writers Association Of America announced tonight.  Full results of the voting both the AL and NL can be found on the BBWAA's website. 

Posey and Cabrera become the first batting champs to both win MVP awards in the same season since Ernie Lombardi and Jimmie Foxx in 1938, and also are the first pair of MVPs whose teams squared off in the World Series since Kirk Gibson's Dodgers and Jose Canseco's Athletics met in the 1988 Fall Classic.

Cabrera became the first player since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 to win the Triple Crown, leading the AL with 44 homers, 139 RBIs and a .330 batting average (Cabrera's slash line also included a .393 OBP and a league-leading .606 slugging percentage).  This is Cabrera's first MVP award, having been a top-five finisher in the voting five previous times in his career, including a second-place finish behind Josh Hamilton in 2010.  Cabrera becomes the first Venezuelan-born player to win an MVP and the second Tiger to win an MVP in as many years, following teammate Justin Verlander's MVP/Cy Young double in 2011.  

The AL MVP race was seen as a tight battle between Cabrera and Mike Trout, but Cabrera ended up with 22 of 28 first-place votes, while Trout collected the other six first-place votes and ended up a distant second.  Trout narrowly missed joining Fred Lynn (1975) and Ichiro Suzuki (2001) as the only players to win Rookie Of The Year and MVP awards in the same season.  Adrian Beltre, Robinson Cano, Hamilton and Adam Jones round out the top six players on the AL ballot.

After missing much of the 2011 season due to a broken leg suffered in a home plate collision, Posey roared back in the best possible way, posting a .336/.408/.549 line, 24 homers and 103 RBIs.  Posey's .336 average led the Majors and earned him his first batting title, making him the first NL catcher to win a batting title since Ernie Lombardi in 1942.

In three years as a regular, the 25-year-old Posey has now won an Rookie of the Year Award, an MVP and two World Series rings.  Posey will receive a big raise this winter in his first trip through the arbitration process, as MLBTR's Matt Swartz projects Posey will receive $5.9MM in 2013.  Since Posey has four arb years as a Super Two player, the Giants could save themselves some money by locking Posey up to a multiyear contract.  Back in August, I thought Posey could get a seven-year, $84MM extension, but in the wake of his great postseason performance and his MVP award, a $100MM+ extension wouldn't be out of the question.

Posey received 27 of 32 first-place votes, easily outpacing Ryan Braun (three first place votes), Andrew McCutchen, Yadier Molina (two first place votes) and Chase Headley on the ballot.  Braves closer Craig Kimbrel was the finished in eighth place and garnered the most votes of any pitcher, also earning a second-place spot from one voter that made Kimbrel the only player beyond the top four to receive a top-three vote.

Olney On Hamilton, Tigers, Posey

MLB executives don’t question Josh Hamilton’s ability on the field, but they’re hesitant to commit long-term to the outfielder, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports. Hamilton figures to ask for $20-25MM per season and executives are wary of guaranteeing that kind of salary to a player with off-field questions, Olney writes. Here’s Olney’s latest on the market for Hamilton, who hits free agency for the first time this offseason:

  • The Rangers have their doubts about how long they want to invest in Hamilton, Olney writes. They’ve done background work on outfielders such as Justin Upton and Jacoby Ellsbury since they realize they could be in the market for an impact outfielder within a few months.
  • The Dodgers had no intention of bidding for Hamilton even before they acquired Carl Crawford. The Angels, Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, Braves, Nationals and Orioles don’t seem like logical destinations for Hamilton, Olney writes.
  • One GM said the Tigers could surprise rival teams and enter the bidding for Hamilton. Owner Mike Ilitch has a history of spending aggressively on free agents such as Prince Fielder and Magglio Ordonez.
  • The Giants could have interest in Hamilton, but Olney suggests it’d probably be conservative. The Giants will make an effort to sign Buster Posey long-term, according to Olney. Mark Polishuk recently previewed a possible extension for the San Francisco catcher.