Buster Posey Rumors

Quick Hits: Padres, Wainwright, Posey, Theriot

Cubs starting pitcher and extension candidate Jeff Samardzija struggled on the hill at times tonight, but showed a new way to add value by launching his second long ball of the spring and adding another base hit (along with a sacrifice bunt). Indeed, Samardzija's work on offense was so impressive that he was allowed to take his final plate appearance before being lifted for a reliever in the bottom of the inning. Elsewhere in the National League …

  • With the first four spots in the Padres rotation all but locked down by Edinson Volquez, Clayton Richard, Jason Marquis, and Eric Stults, the club could be eyeing outside options for starter number five, writes Corey Brock of MLB.com. Brock notes that in-house options include Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner, Tim Stauffer, and Freddy Garcia. San Diego was also recently linked to the Tigers' Rick Porcello. GM Josh Byrnes was not shy in acknowledging his interest: "Our scouts are out there, and we're talking to a few clubs." 
  • Extension discussions between the Cardinals and starter Adam Wainwright still appear to be moving in a positive direction, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Said Wainwright: "I think both sides feel confident something could get done." We learned earlier today that talks were progressing.  
  • An extension agreement between the Giants and star catcher Buster Posey could take many forms, which serves to complicate negotiations, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. The Giants and Posey will likely discuss "a three-year deal that buys out arbitration, a different mid-range deal that cuts into free agency and the so-called 'megadeal' that locks Posey into San Francisco for a decade."
  • Infielder Ryan Theriot remains unsigned after playing last year with the world-champion Giants, and San Francisco GM Brian Sabean says that the club has "lost contact" with the 33-year-old, reports Schulman. Theriot remains interested in playing, but so far has not received an offer that is "exactly what I'm looking for playing-time-wise." If the right opportunity does not come along, the easy-going Theriot seems to be at peace with moving on from the game to spend time with his young family.

Giants, Posey Begin Extension Talks

The Giants have begun talking with Buster Posey's representatives about a potential mega-deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Jeff Berry of CAA Sports represents Posey, who will earn $8MM in 2013 as a first-time arbitration eligible player.

There’s a “decent-sized gap” between the Giants and Posey’s representatives, Heyman reports. Neither side has given up, however, and the possibility of a long-term deal still exists. Heyman suggests that Posey would like to sign for ten years or more, adding that the Giants aren’t opposed to this notion. It’s possible the Giants will simply sign Posey through his arbitration years, Heyman reports. First the team will see if there’s a fit long-term.

Posey, a super two player, will go to arbitration three more times. If he doesn't sign a long-term deal, he'll be eligible for free agency following the 2016 season. Still just 25, Posey has two World Series titles, a Rookie of the Year award and an MVP on his resume. In parts of four MLB seasons he has a .314/.380/.503 batting line.

A ten-year deal that begins in 2013 would buy out six free agent seasons and would cost well over $100MM. Buster Olney of ESPN.com has suggested Joey Votto's 12-year deal could provide a framework for the Giants and Posey. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports recently estimated that adding a seven-year, $120MM deal to Posey's 2013 salary could work for both sides.

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).