Giants catcher Buster Posey has decided to opt out of the 2020 season, he announced in a Zoom call with reporters today. Posey explained that he and his wife have adopted twin girls who were born prematurely at 32 weeks. They’re in stable condition but will be in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for the time being. Both manager Gabe Kapler and president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi have voiced full support of Posey in his decision.
“With these babies being as fragile as they are, for the next four months at minimum,” Posey said, the decision was easy from a family perspective. The former NL Rookie of the Year and MVP acknowledged that from a pure baseball standpoint, the decision to sit the season out did weigh on him, but he feels strongly that he’s making the best decision for his family. Posey had been absent from Giants Summer Camp for the past two days.
Though Posey himself is not a high-risk individual, his decision serves as yet another reminder that there’s far more to consider than individual well-being when it comes to the current pandemic. We’ve seen many players with family decisions grapple with the same issues that Posey articulately described in his announcement. Ryan Zimmerman was the first such player to opt out with those concerns in mind, but Posey now becomes the tenth veteran to do so. Others, including Sean Doolittle and Mike Trout, have voiced some reservation about playing due to concerns within their own families.
Because Posey himself isn’t high-risk, he won’t receive service time in 2020 and won’t be paid the prorated version of his $21.4MM salary (roughly $7.9MM). His absence will leave a sizable hole in the team’s clubhouse — a fact that both Zaidi and Kapler have emphasized — and will also leave the Giants severely thin behind the plate. Presumptive backup Aramis Garcia had hip surgery that could sideline him all season, and the only other catchers in the organization who have called a big league game are Rob Brantly and Tyler Heineman.
It’s true that the Giants have one of MLB’s best catching prospects, 2018 No. 2 overall pick Joey Bart, but he’s yet to play a game above Double-A (where he played in just 22 games last season). Posey’s absence could certainly open the door for Bart, but Zaidi also cautioned against expecting Bart to be thrust into a starring role (Twitter link via Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic): “This is a tough environment to evaluate young position players when you went in thinking they needed more competitive reps at Double-A or Triple-A.”
The Giants will add another catcher to their player pool, Zaidi continued (via the San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea), be it an external acquisition or a promotion from within the Giants’ ranks. There aren’t many free agents of note who have gone unsigned. Russell Martin is a notable exception and was said to be seeking a team back in February, though it’s possible that what has transpired since has altered his plans. Veteran Jesus Sucre also went unsigned this winter, and the Dodgers recently cut Jose Lobaton loose. Given the thin supply in free agency, the Giants could simply stay in-house or look into acquiring a non-roster veteran who is in camp with another club.