Sunday, November 18, 2012

Locking Up Buster Posey: How Much Is Too Much For the San Francisco Giants?

Buster Posey's historic 2012 season earned him a box full of accolades, and with the Giants looking to spend money to lock up their respective free agents, this offseason may be the best time to lock up Posey as well.

How much do the Giants pay Posey? Probably the farm and then some -- but the years will be the most significant part of one of the biggest contracts offered in the MLB.

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Buster Posey fell to the San Francisco Giants in the 2008 MLB Draft.

Posey was coming off a 2008 junior season at Florida State where he hit .463 with 26 home runs and 93 RBI, winning the Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year Award, as well as the Dick Houser Trophy for best player in college and the Golden Spikes Award for the best amateur athlete in college. Yet with all those accolades, Posey fell to fifth in the MLB Draft that year, behind the Pirates’ Pedro Alvarez, the Orioles’ Brian Matusz, the Rays’ Tim Beckam and the Royals’ Eric Hosmer.
“…considered the top catching prospect, both defensively and offensively, in the country. His offensive numbers this season, including a .471 average, put him among the national leaders in several categories. His receiving, footwork and release are all advanced, and his athleticism is apparent. Posey's arm strength (he reaches 94 mph off the mound) and accuracy are pluses as well. At the plate, Posey has above-average bat speed and makes consistent contact. He has power to all fields but will probably be known more for his batting average than home runs. Drafted out of high school by the Angels in the 50th round in 2005, Posey is regarded as one of the safest picks in this year's draft. His projection as an offensive catcher with Gold Glove-caliber defense has boosted Posey's draft stock as much as anyone's over the weeks leading up to the draft.”
Four years later and three seasons into Posey’s MLB career, he is an All-Star, the 2010 Rookie of the Year, the 2012 Comeback Player of the Year, the 2012 NL Hank Aaron Award winner, the 2012 Silver Slugger Award winner, the MLB batting champion for 2012 and on Thursday he was named the 2012 NL MVP.

All that does not include that in three seasons with the Giants, he has two World Series rings -- while many forget that 2012 was Posey’s first full season in the major leagues.

He hit .336 with 24 home runs and 103 RBI this season and ran away with the NL MVP on Thursday, claiming 27 of 32 first-place votes.

And so we think ahead to what is next for the newest superstar in Major League Baseball?

For the Giants’ front office, it would be to lock this player up for the foreseeable future.  Posey’s current contract paid him just $615,000 in 2012, and he is arbitration eligible from 2013-2016.

Right off the bat, GM Brian Sabean and Co. have to be thinking big money for several seasons, and there are two contracts that stand out when paying a player like Posey and making him a part of the Giants for many, many years.

Joey Votto’s recent contract with the Reds will pay him $225 million for the next ten seasons, and one can argue those two players are nearly on the same current wavelength in baseball.  Votto’s contract is at least a topping out point.

Joe Mauer’s contract certainly is of the Giants’ interest, as Mauer has never been the same player since he signed his eight-year, $184 million contract that will be effective through 2018.  Mauer has battled injuries, playing in just 82 games in 2011, but bounced back to play 147 in 2012.

There are concerns with Posey being a catcher, but one full season under Posey’s belt and he has a batting title and an NL MVP Award?

Pay the man everything you have.

Judging by Sabean and the Giants’ history, and presumed newly developed reluctance to pay any player more than they are worth (see Barry Zito, Aaron Rowand, Dave Roberts, etc.), Posey is looking at somewhere around a six or seven-year contract -- not the ten-year contract everyone would suggest and many teams have made the norm in baseball for superstar players.

Posey is still early in his career, which is why record numbers in the salary department are not likely, by any means.  Votto’s contract pays him $22.5 million per year, while Mauer’s contract still pays him $23 million.

The last thing the Giants want to do is have a Mauer situation on their hands, especially since Posey plays one of the more taxing positions in the game. We saw the damage when a freak play including Scott Cousins occurs.  Still, Posey does nearly everything hitting-wise, while catching one of the best starting rotations in the game.

More than likely, Posey can expect a seven-year contract worth around $18 million per year.

Do you recognize that number? You should.

Barry Zito's contract with the Giants back in 2007 earned him a seven-year deal worth $126 million and it will come off San Francisco's books at the end of the 2013 season.’s Ray Ratto sees a similar salary coming Posey’s way.
“…and is on the cusp of becoming the highest paid catcher not named Joe Mauer. Molina signed a five-year, $75M deal that kicks in next year, but Posey’s next contract ought to shame that, at least a bit.
“And when he signs it, he will handle it in that understated yet subtly edgy way of his, as though he were too polite to say, ‘Well, what did you expect to happen?’”
There are not many sure things in sports now-and-days, but it is hard to find one thing wrong with giving Posey the keys to the castle. There are no worries with him at the plate, in the field or off the field, and his intelligence and silent leadership in the clubhouse only further cements him as a player to mold younger players on the team after.

The Giants’ franchise changed forever when the College Player of the Year out of Florida State dropped to them in the 2008 MLB Draft. Four years later, the Giants have two World Series titles and thoughts of a baseball dynasty running through their mind.

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