Posted By Jeff Fletcher on March 8, 2011 8:47 am
A few people who read my proposed multi-year deal for Buster Posey think I short-changed the guy in his arbitration years. Just wanted to clarify something, because I believe a lot of Giants fans are seeing arbitration through the Tim Lincecum example, which was very rare.
I explain it thoroughly here (but it’s an AOL link, so I really don’t care if you click it or not), but here’s the basic point: Players in arbitration have to compare themselves only to other players of similar service time unless there are “special accomplishments” involved. That’s been interpreted to mostly mean winning the Cy Young or MVP.
Because Lincecum won the Cy Young just before becoming arbitration eligible, he was able to compare himself to any other Cy Young pitcher, which is how he and his agents came up with their $13-million asking price. If Lincecum had the exact same performance in 2008, but he’d finished second in the Cy Young race, he’d have only been able to compare himself to other first-time arbitration-eligible pitchers. That would have been guys like Justin Verlander ($3.65M), Roy Oswalt ($3.25M), Dontrelle Willis ($4.35), Felix Hernandez ($3.8M) and Cole Hamels ($4.35M).
Point is, if Lincecum hadn’t won the Cy Young, he wouldn’t have been able to ask for anything near $13M and he wouldn’t have gotten anything near the $8M he and the Giants settled on.
Which brings us back to Posey. As good as he is, there is no way he can assume he’s going to win the MVP in one of the next two years. He may get some votes and may even finish in the top five, but the odds are that he probably won’t win. If he’s merely a very good, MVP-candidate? Look at Joe Mauer. He finished sixth in the MVP voting just before becoming first-time arbitration-eligible, and he got $3.75M, as part of a four-year deal. Would probably have been a little higher if he’d gone to arbitration for a one-year deal, but you get the idea.
If the Giants wait until after Posey has the Mauer season, then the price goes up to $5M (Mauer’s 2007 deal, plus inflation). The idea of offering him $2.5M today is to get a discount, in exchange for Posey getting the guaranteed money in case, heaven forbid, he doesn’t turn out to be Joe Mauer. It happens.
So I’m not totally screwing Posey by offering him $2.5, $5M and $8M for his first three arb years today. The first year may be a little low, but not horribly. I’d say $3.5M would be more than enough. (Longoria got $2.5M and Tulowitzki got $3.5M in their first arb years, both times in deals negotiated before Season Two.)
I think my deal is in the neighborhood of what he’ll eventually get. Be sure to check back after he signs to see how close I was.