After handing out over $150 million worth in contract extensions to key pitchers, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner, it appears that locking up young talent is going to be a trend for Brian Sabean.
In a career riddled with unwise investments of funds, this is definitely one of the better habits Sabean could continue, especially as it limits his involvement in free agency, where his track record is just awful. This leaves the question: Who's next in line for a contract extension?
Firstly, let's make a key distinction here before we start any speculation: These big contract extensions are only for franchise players. What do I mean when I say franchise players? Well every franchise has a handful of players whose success/failure correlates very highly the overall success/failure of the franchise.
For the Giants, those players are Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey and Brandon Belt. At this point, the only name on that list that might surprise you is Belt, but rest assured he has the talent to take this franchise to the next level, if only he could get the opportunity to do so...
Anyways back to the speculation! So three out those six were already given extensions earlier this year which leaves Posey, Lincecum and Belt as the three team members potentially next in line for extensions.
The first one we can cross off the list is Belt because at this point management has given every indication that they hate Belt. Maybe that's a little exaggerated, but their handling of Belt has just been atrocious, and if I was Belt, I would be counting the days until I could leave this wretched franchise.
Of course hopefully that will soon change. Belt will heat up, and a gun will pointed to Sabean's head until he's the full-time starter. Belt and the Giants will then reconcile with a new prospering relationship.
Next one we can cross off the list is Tim Lincecum. Earlier this season the Giants and Lincecum struggled to iron out an extension beyond his arbitration years as the sides apparently were several years and tens of millions apart. Given his early year velocity and location concerns, an extension seems even more unlikely, at the very least until Lincecum returns to form.
That leaves Buster Posey who's coming off a season which was cut short by brutal, season ending injury.
Despite the severity of the injury, it appears that Posey has for the most part returned to form as he currently boasts .375/.429/.500 batting line, has looked pretty good on defense and even successfully stole his first base of the year Wednesday night. Now that his injury is for the most part in the past, it's time the Giants make a move to lock up his near future.
Apparently the Giants were thinking the same thing, as Andrew Baggarly reported earlier this week that the Giants have reached out to Posey's agent about a multi-year deal. As catchers of Posey's ability and age are few and far between, there aren't too many comparable deals to look at as potential extensions.
I think Carlos Santana and Brian McCann are really the only ones with comparable situations as both are/were extremely talented catchers who signed extensions after a little more than a year of service time.
Santana signed a five-year extension worth $21 million, and McCann signed a six-year deal worth $26.8 million, although that was in 2007, and McCann was only 23. (For reference Posey is 25.) Given his age, a five-year deal seems most likely as that would end after his age 29 season and would buy out all of his arbitration years and potentially even a free-agent year depending on the options.
Since at this point in his career, Posey has proven himself a bit more than Santana had when he signed the extension, $21 million seems pretty light. Something like $30 million for the next five years with some sort of club and player option for a sixth year seems like a fair and mutually beneficial deal.