Posted By Jeff Fletcher on March 7, 2011 10:20 am
It’s a lazy Monday morning and all my colleagues are at spring training and I’m not, so I’ve decided to occupy myself by giving Buster Posey a multi-year deal.
It may seem a little early to be talking about that sort of thing, but it’s really not. That’s how baseball works these days. I think we can all agree that Posey is a pretty darn good everyday player. And he also plays a premium position. And he’s also got that makeup and work ethic that you dream about. And he’s not a pitcher.
All of which makes him a prime candidate for a multiyear deal. Let’s look at three comparable guys: Troy Tulowitzki, Evan Longoria and Joe Mauer.
Tulowitzki did not win the Rookie of the Year in 2007. He was a close second to Ryan Bruan. Still, he had a very nice offensive season at a premium defensive position. He quickly showed signs of leadership and durability and all that great stuff you’d like to have from a franchise building-block. The Rockies signed him to a six-year, $31-million deal in January before his second season. The deal broke down like this, by years of his career:
Year 2: $750K
Year 3: $1M
Year 4: $3.5M
Year 5: $5.5M
Year 6: $8.25M
Year 7: $10M
Year 8: $15M option or $2M buyout
What you see there is that they bought out at least one year of his free agency, with an option for the second, in addition to buying out the three arbitration years. The last three years of this deal got wiped out when they renegotiated a new deal for him this past winter, but that’s another story.
Now, Longoria. He was another can’t miss prospect with all the tools. He also had the franchise-building-block makeup. The Rays didn’t even wait until after he won the Rookie of the Year to give him his extension. He was in the big leagues for one week when they signed him to a six-year, $17.5-million deal with three club options that could add another $27 million.
Year 2: $500K
Year 3: $550K
Year 4: $950K
Year 5: $2M
Year 6: $4.5M
Year 7: $6M
Year 8: $7.5M option or $2M buyout
Year 9: $11M option
Year 10: $11.5M option
There were some escalators in there. First, they arranged for Year 4 to go up to to $2.5M if Longoria would have been arbitration-eligible, which he would have been. They called him up a week into the season, so he was going to be a Super Two as long as he didn’t get sent back to the minors. Anyway, at the time the Rays signed this deal I thought they were crazy, but now they look brilliant. They’ve got Longoria signed at least one year into his free agency, and it’ll be a no-brainer for them to pick up the options and get him through the 10th year of his career.
Finally, let’s take a look at Joe Mauer, and see what happens when you wait just a little longer. The Twins didn’t sign Mauer to his first multi-year deal until Feburary 2007, after his third season (and only his second as an everyday player). In that season, he hit .347 with 13 homers, made the All-Star team and finished sixth in the MVP voting. Mauer had already become arbitration-eligible at that point, so he cost the Twins $33 million for four years.
Year 4: $3.75M
Year 5: $6.25M
Year 6: $10.5M
Year 7: $12.5M
It’s true that I’ve cherry-picked these examples to pick guys who are all very good. Certainly there are cases like Bobby Crosby, too. He signed a five-year, $12.75-million deal the spring after he won Rookie of the Year, and we all know how that worked out. Mostly, though, guys are going to get their money when they get to arbitration simply by being everyday players and moving up the service-time ladder. Miguel Montero made $2 million his first year as an arbitration-eligible catcher in 2010 and moved up to $3.2 million in 2011.
So the risk to the Giants is really only that Posey gets hurt. That’s not a trivial risk, but I think it’s a risk that’s they should be willing to take. The benefit to the Giants is that they could save potentially $10-15 million. Look at the difference between the Longoria and the Mauer deals.
So, let’s figure out what they should offer. For starters, let’s just assume that Posey is going to be a Super Two. He’s got 161 days of service time. (That 33 days they brought him up at the end of 2009 is the difference between him being a Super Two after 2012 and not.) Assuming he doesn’t go back to the minors over the next two full seasons, he’ll be arbitration eligible after 2012.
He’s already signed for 2011. I couldn’t find the salary, but it’s probably in the neighborhood of $500,000. (Now I know why I couldn’t find Posey’s salary for 2011. He hadn’t signed until a few hours after I wrote this. Salary is still unknown, at the moment, but I’m guessing it’ll still be around $500K.) If he signs a new deal this spring, they could just rip that up. I like the Rays trick with all the options, so how ’bout this:
2017: $12M option or $4M buyout (first free agent year)
2018: $15M option
2019: $15M option
So that’s a six-year deal, guaranteed for $31.5M (just a little more than Tulo). Remember Mauer? He got four years, $33M, because the Twins waited till he had an All-Star, MVP-ballot season. I don’t think anyone would be surprised to see Posey have that year this year.
The Giants pitchers are going to be getting very expensive. Tim Lincecum is going to be arbitration-eligible again the next two years and due for another $13-17M a year, and Matt Cain will make $15.3M in 2012 and then be a free agent. Jonathan Sanchez has another arb year next year (at about $7M) and then he’s a free agent. So the Giants really ought to lock up Posey. Now.
That’s my two cents. Or $31.5 million.