When the news broke that my beloved Giants had agreed to terms with their All-Star catcher Buster Posey on a landmark, eight-year $167 million contract extension, the first thing that dawned on me was the realization (and admitted relief) that Posey will most likely play out his entire professional baseball career in San Francisco.
The second thought I immediately had was being able to sit in the stands someday with my kids and wife to watch Posey play the same way my parents took me to see Will “The Thrill” Clark. I envisioned my soon-to-be-born son sitting next to me decked out in a Posey jersey with cotton candy smeared all over his face while I explained to him the greatness of player #28.
So it goes without saying that the Posey extension was a huge deal for Giants fans in-and-around Northern California. Sure, it was the latest indication over the past year from the ownership group that the Giants are not afraid to shell out the big bucks to hold onto their homegrown talent (e.g., Matt Cain 6 years, $127.5 and Madison Bumgarner 6 years, $35.5). But more importantly, it demonstrated their continued commitment to running a winning organization.
Shortly after the Posey deal was inked, a good friend of mine from North Carolina texted me and said, “Posey got the biggest contract in Giants’ history…not sure about that.” It’s a fair question and I’m sure a lot of people shared the same sentiment – especially baseball fans outside of Northern California. Why did the Giants commit to the largest contract in their franchise’s history that will make Posey the second wealthiest catcher in MLB history?
The answer is simple. Posey is without question, a once-in-a-generation, multifaceted player. He has the skills, smarts, leadership and maturity to be the cornerstone of any baseball franchise. Posey is what Chipper Jones was for the Atlanta Braves or what Derek Jeter is to the New York Yankees – players that forever change the course of a franchise (e.g., how it’s viewed, overall success).
Consider this: In less than three years of MLB service, Posey has won the National League Rookie of the Year Award (2010), two World Series rings (2010 & 2012), National League MVP (2012), National League Batting Title (2012) and Silver Slugger Award (2012). Last year, in what was his first full MLB season, Posey hit .336 with 24 HRs and 103 RBIs and joined the great Stan Musial as the only other player in history to win two World Series rings and an MVP in his first three full seasons.
But it’s not just about offense when it comes to Posey. He also posted a .992 fielding percentage and an impressive .304 caught stealing percentage in 2012, which put him just outside the top five catchers in baseball. It’s not bad when you consider that all the players ahead of him, with the exception of Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, are primarily defensive-minded catchers.
Additionally, Posey is a great game manager behind the plate and seems to shine in the most tense of situations. Whether it’s guiding Brian Wilson to clinch the NLCS in Game 6 against the Phillies in 2010 to send the Giants to the World Series or Barry Zito’s pitching gem in Game 5 against the Cardinals in 2012 to stave off elimination, he has built trust with his pitching staff and they are confident he is calling the right pitches for them to throw at the right time. Make no mistake about it – without Posey behind the plate since 2010, there is no chance the Giants would have won the last two out of three World Series titles.
I certainly understand why people scratch their head on the magnitude of the Posey contract, but it’s important to note that in 2011, Posey made just $575,000 (39th highest paid catcher) and in 2012 he made $615,000 (37th highest paid catcher). Given all that he has accomplished, it was time for Posey to get paid! If Twins catcher Joe Mauer can lock in an 8 year, $184 million contract (still the largest contract ever given to a catcher and the only deal comparable to what Posey just signed), then there is no question Posey is equally deserving of a similar deal.
Like many Giants fans, I’m not worried about whether Posey will live up to his contract. I mean, who can live up to a contract that size anyway? The Giants made a calculated risk using the data they had on Posey to make him their franchise player and I’m good with that.
Will the Giants win another World Series with Posey? It’s hard to say because there are so many variables that factor into winning a title, but what I do know is that as Posey goes, so do the Giants. He will be the cornerstone in that locker room for years to come and I can’t think of a better person – someone who exemplifies being a professional both on and off the field – to assume that role.
So strap in, hold on and enjoy the ride Giants fans. It’s going to be a fun decade.
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