Buster Posey's Contract Means Giants Can't Afford to Leave Superstar Behind Dish
Step one of the Buster Posey plan for this offseason was completed on Friday afternoon, after the San Francisco Giants announced an eight-year contract extension for its star catcher that will keep the current National League MVP under team control for the next decade.
Step two should be a permanent move to first base.
As a catcher, Posey's exploits are well documented.
After a full-time call-up in 2010, all Posey did was win NL Rookie of the Year honors, smash 18 home runs and help the Giants capture their first-ever World Series title in San Francisco—all while handling duties behind the plate.
The honeymoon period over in May 2011, Posey and the Giants first started flirting with a move to first after a collision at the plate limited Posey to just 45 games that season. During the offseason prior to the 2012 campaign, the Giants promised to get Posey more work at first base moving forward (via ESPN).
San Francisco rang true to its promise, as Posey played a career-high 29 games at first during the 2012 regular season. He also played two games as the one-bagger in the 2012 playoffs, as San Francisco captured its second World Series title in the last three seasons.
The ramifications of Posey's new deal are now two-fold. For starters, large MLB contracts have become quite the taboo word over the past few seasons. Injuries to guys like Johan Santana, Jason Bay, John Lackey and Brian Roberts have left a black mark on baseball contracts that stretch over five years.
Secondly, the Giants have Joe Mauer as a benchmark for how catchers today turn into first basemen with this kind of financial commitment.
The topic of high-paid catchers and a position change has rocked MLB since Mauer's record-setting deal with the Minnesota Twins, and it's a debate that's raging on. On one hand, catchers are groomed to do just that—catch. Many have their most productive seasons with their foot in both the hitter and pitcher camps.
Just look at Mauer, who reportedly wants to spend more time behind the plate again in 2013 (via Jon Krawczynski and Yahoo! Sports).
On the other hand, protecting one's investment is just as crucial to success.
Bleacher Report's Zach D. Rymer sure thinks that Posey should move to first base—sooner, rather than later, at that:
Now here's hoping the #SFGiants do the right thing and move Buster Posey to first base sooner rather than later.— Zachary D. Rymer (@zachrymer) March 29, 2013
To make matters more complicated in San Francisco, first base incumbent Brandon Belt is fresh off a solid season at the position. Belt hit .275 and had 113 hits last season in 145 games, and would have to move back to the outfield at least part-time if Posey was to make a more permanent home at position No. 3 on the scorecard.
Even so, it's the right move for both parties.
With Posey already sustaining a significant injury at the plate and the team showing no hesitation in rewarding his efforts towards bringing home two World Series trophies, a move to first base is what's best for the franchise and the star catcher.
Injuries are part of the game. When debates like this rage on, I always try to mention that an ACL tear can occur on a flight of stairs just as easily as it can on the diamond.
How soon should San Francisco move Posey to first base?
However, when you are a professional franchise, it's better to be more cautious with a player's safety than to second-guess whether or not an injury could have been prevented. The Giants are in the rare spot in which they can move Posey to another position without losing his bat, and still keep him at catcher at various points in the season if necessary (must-win games, playoffs, etc.).
Friday was a day for celebrating in San Francisco. The ink is barely dry on his deal, and the franchise has locked in its star for the next 10 years or so with a massive deal.
When that celebration is over, however, it's time to start thinking about the sensible move in baseball these days—moving your star catcher to first base.
It's an unpopular topic, but sometimes the hardest topics are the ones that keep guys like Posey on the field longer, and out of the training room more often.
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