Buster Posey is riding high, which means that his market value is rapidly increasing as well. Rest assured, he isn’t scheduled to become a free agent until 2017. But it would be wise of the Giants to avoid letting their prized commodity to even sniff the anticipation of the open waters by extending him now.
As with most deals and assorted long-term extensions, plenty of risks are involved.
Locking up Posey long-term might not seem like a risk on the surface given his impeccable consistency, but it certainly is. For one, he is a catcher. Catchers take on the most grueling position in baseball because a devastating injury can occur at any time. Other positions also posses injury risk, don’t be mistaken, but catchers are an entirely different story.
Take 2011, for example. The Giants were playing just another May game, and suddenly trainers are helping Posey off the field after taking a blow to leg, as the Giants’ postseason hopes were washed down the drain. That isn’t the definition of injury prone, rather, a freak incident that could have happened to anyone. Catchers are susceptible to freak injuries more than first basemen or left fielders. That’s the risk factor in locking any catcher up long-term.
A position change was a frequently discussed story for months before the season began. With Brandon Belt’s bright future, and the value that Posey boasts putting up incredible numbers as a catcher, such a switch is no longer in the cards. And yes, Posey’s contract demands will be higher simply because he plays catcher and compiles MVP numbers. From his agent’s perspective, that is a big point in his favor during potential negotiations, and just another reason to encourage his client to remain in the catcher’s spot.
So, the Giants would presumably be committing a boatload of money towards a partly risky, but good cause in Posey. Eventually, they will have to sign him long-term, but now is a better time because his price tag isn’t too extensive.
In two years, who knows what his market value will be if Posey pads his already stunningly good portfolio. One thing is for sure, though, the Giants are going to find themselves handing Posey a massive amount of money, which he certainly deserves. That is, if they want to retain him. I might be going out on a limb here, but they probably do. In retrospect, Posey could stay on earth over the next couple of years and the Giants wouldn’t have to hand out so much money.
Which of those scenarios is more likely to happen, though?
Going at the rate he is currently going at, Posey seems poised to add several more awards to his packed trophy case before he hits the free agent market. Now that could change, but the Giants shouldn’t take that chance given Posey’s importance to the team and the city of San Francisco. And don’t think that Posey won’t be persuaded by hefty offers from other clubs. In those situations, it’s his agent that will be the primary decision maker, as Posey would ultimately take the backseat.
Ponder upon this situation: The Giants are unable to retain Posey. One word comes to mind—a big, big, big, riot in the streets of San Francisco. The Giants are smarter than that.
But Posey also takes a risk by signing an extension three years before he’s eligible for free agency. Not only can he boost his value over the next couple of years, but on the other end of the spectrum, by not signing an early extension, he avoids the assurance of a long-term deal.
For catchers, a long-term deal is a goal given how common injuries are at that position. One deflating taint could end a catcher’s career because he would have to prove himself again in order to receive contract offers. Luckily, Posey dodged that bullet and bounced back extraordinarily well.
Last offseason, Tim Lincecum turned down a supposed five-year deal. Instead, he signed a much shorter two-year deal. Thus far, Lincecum and his agent have fallen vastly short of genius territory because the two-time Cy Young award winner embarks on the season of his life in 2013 with free agency looming next offseason. If he had taken the long-term deal, on the other-hand, he wouldn’t have that problem.
While certainly a risk for general manager Brian Sabean, the long-tenured GM would be wise to extend his catcher through the upcoming arbitration years and perhaps longer. The positives outweigh the negatives, and if Posey keeps piling on positives over the next couple of years, the Giants could lose Posey in the worst case scenario. That’s something that management shouldn’t even be fooling around with.