Giants Wisely Lock Up Buster Posey Forever

If you hadn’t noticed, Major League teams have decided that the best way to use their current financial windfall is to keep their best players for essentially their entire careers. It wasn’t long ago that single team lifers like Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn were the outliers, but now, it is becoming unusual for an elite player to not sign a mega-contract with his original franchise. Just in the last few years, we’ve seen the following players commit to spending the great majority of their careers with just one Major League team:

Joe Mauer, Joey Votto, Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, Evan Longoria, Felix Hernandez, Matt Kemp, David Wright, Cole Hamels, Matt Cain, Yadier Molina, Ryan Zimmerman, Justin Verlander, Adam Wainwright, and now Buster Posey.

Maybe not all of these players will stay with their current teams for the duration of these contracts, and a few might end up going elsewhere after these deals expire to squeeze an extra year or two out of the end of their careers. These aren’t necessarily contracts “for life”, but they do cover enough of the prime years of the game’s best players that it ensures that their legacy will be forever tied to one franchise. This represents a significant shift for Major League Baseball since free agency began.

Great players still change teams, of course. Albert Pujols left the Cardinals. Prince Fielder left the Brewers. David Price is almost certainly going to leave the Rays. Robinson Cano might leave the Yankees, though I’ll believe that when I see it. It isn’t true that every great player now retires with the team that brought him to the Majors. But there’s no question that MLB teams are moving to make that the more common occurrence, and fewer stars are waiting to get to free agency before cashing in on massive paychecks.

While it’s way too early in those contracts to judge them, I do think it’s interesting to note just how few look like mistakes. The Twins might not do the Mauer deal if they had it to do over again — owing more to where they are as a franchise than Mauer himself — but the rest of these mega contracts look like huge wins for the teams signing them, at least in the first few years of the deal. Back when Troy Tulowitzki signed his second long term deal with Colorado, I openly questioned their logic in doing so, given that the world economy was in the toilet and he had four years left on his current deal. Now, even with more injury problems, Tulo’s deal looks like a huge bargain.

When the Brewers did the same thing with Ryan Braun, I again suggested it was a bad call, but even with his recent connection to PEDs, there’s little question that Braun would get significantly more than that deal if he had waited. The Brewers saved themselves a lot of money by striking early.

I’ve learned my lesson. I’m not coming down hard on these contracts anymore. When Joey Votto signed his mega deal last year, I decided that my old views were outdated and that teams were making decisions based on their expectation of a very bright financial future for every team. Rather than kill another big contract for a franchise player, I figured that I needed to adjust:

So, at this point, we have a couple of options – we can continue to be shocked and amazed at the growing rate of contracts that guarantee big money to players from 2018 and beyond, or we can adjust our expectations for what premium players are going to be able to command going forward. With the promise of new money flowing into many organizations over the next three to five years, I’d imagine we’ll see more and more teams being aggressive in trying to lock up their young stars before they get to free agency and have to bid against whichever franchise just happened to renegotiate their television contract a few months prior.

That trend isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. Major League teams are swimming in money, and they’ve decided the best way to distribute those profits is to keep their franchise players from ever reaching free agency. I can’t say I blame them.

Matt Swartz did some interesting work a few years back on the return on investment provided by re-signing your own players versus poaching a free agent from another team. Overall, re-signed players easily outpaced hired guns, with Swartz noting:

The real difference in production seems to come at the end of deals, indicating that the primary cause of this appears to be asymmetric information, whereby teams are using intelligence they have about their own players and using it to determine who is likely to perform better. This seems to be a function of being able to detect both declining performance as well as health.

Teams have far more information about a player’s work ethic and health than we do. It doesn’t mean that every player who gets a long term deal deserved one and is going to justify his salary, but it does suggest that the pool of players who are allowed to reach free agency are less likely — as a group — to maintain their performances over the long term, as the reluctance of a team to keep them around might suggest that they have some information that makes them more skeptical about their endurance. This isn’t gospel for every player, and the data should be tweaked to account for agent preference as well — Scott Boras clients rarely sign these kinds of long term deals before free agency, but that’s a function of his advice, not a physical flaw among his clients — but it is worth remembering that money invested into re-signing your own player has historically brought a better return than trying to replace that player in free agency.

That brings us to Buster Posey. We’re 1,000 words in to a post with the Giants catcher’s name in the headline and we haven’t said anything about him specifically, but at this point, I think it’s important to understand the context of these deals, rather than viewing them in isolation. Posey’s new deal is an eight year extension that begins in 2014, so he’s now committed to the team through 2021. The contract includes $159 million in new money over those eight seasons, as he was already under contract for $8 million in 2013, so the AAV of the extension is essentially $20 million per year. The deal keeps Posey in a Giants uniform through at least age 34.

Most catchers aren’t particularly productive beyond their early-to-mid-30s, so Posey might not be a great player by the end of this deal. As always, though, you cannot evaluate a contract by how much a player will be overpaid when the deal is winding down without also noting how underpaid he will be during the first part of the deal. Nearly every big contract in baseball is team friendly at the front and player friendly at the back. This is just how these deals work.

So, the Giants are essentially betting that they’ll get better production from Posey’s five free agent years than they would have been able to buy with the roughly $110 million or so that they’re giving him to buy out those five years ahead of time, assuming he would have landed something like $50 million over his remaining arbitration seasons regardless. On the one hand, they’re taking on a lot of additional risk by signing this deal now, so they absolutely have to get a discount in price for buying future years three years away from free agency, but on the other hand, 5/110ish probably isn’t going to buy you anything close to Buster Posey in a few years.

Josh Hamilton — a clearly inferior player with all kinds of health and performance risks — just got 5/125 for his age 32-36 seasons. Posey would have hit free agency heading into his age 29 season, and salaries in baseball aren’t going down. Even if Posey regresses a bit over the next few years, the only thing that would have kept him from landing this kind of deal is probably a major injury that forced him to move out from behind the plate. Adjusting for inflation between now and the off-season of 2015, Posey just signed a deal for not too far off what Anibal Sanchez just got. Posey would have to fall a long way over the next few years to be viewed as the equivalent to Anibal Sanchez.

Certainly, it’s possible. We shouldn’t pretend that there’s no risk here, especially for a catcher with one serious injury under his belt already. If Posey has to move to first base in a few years, his value will drop pretty significantly. But, then again, Posey’s such a good hitter that it’s not clear he wouldn’t be worth this extension even with the expectation that he’d play first base for the last half of the contract. His career wRC+ is 142; Prince Fielder’s career wRC+ is 143.

So, yeah, I’m just not in the business of criticizing teams for taking these risks anymore. There’s so much money in the game that the inflation of player salaries is inevitable, and inflating your payroll by keeping your best players has historically been a better idea than trying to steal someone else’s best player that they decided they didn’t want to keep. Even the worst of these megadeals looks okay right now, and while some of them will eventually turn into albatrosses at the end of the contracts, I think these bets are better than the alternative.

In an era where everyone is keeping their stars from free agency, holding on to your money and buying the best free agents possible isn’t exactly a no-risk proposition either. There’s no way to spend $150 million without taking on some real risk, and there’s enough information to suggest that these kinds of extensions for true star players are the best way teams can use their money. Posey’s a true star and he’s now going to be paid like one. It’s good for Posey, it’s probably good for the Giants, and it’s good for Major League Baseball.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

107 Responses to “Giants Wisely Lock Up Buster Posey Forever”

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  1. John S. says:

    Ryan. Howard.

    -21 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Dave Cameron says:

      30-year-old first baseman who had averaged just over +3 WAR per season over the prior three years. Not even remotely in the conversation for this kind of player. Signing a star to a long term deal is not any less wise because the Phillies didn’t understand that Ryan Howard was not a star.

      +83 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jason B says:

        I would tend to agree with John; just because you/we understand Howard was overrated and not really a star, the Phillies didn’t and locked him up with a massive overpay. Those heinous signings count too, and still happened under the same premise of “Hey, let’s lock up our hometown star player to a long-term deal!”

        -8 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • cass says:

          That’s rediculous.

          We are evaluating players based on our metrics, not the teams. Dave’s saying that if a team locks up a star player (by objective metrics, not just because the team says so), then it’s probably a good deal. Including a player like Howard in such a conversation is inappropriate on its face.

          Look at it this way: Howard was projected to be old and washed-up at the start of his contract. Posey may possibly be old and washed-up only at the end of his contract. Big difference.

          +19 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Jason B says:

          No, I think *that’s* ridiculous. You can’t look in hindsight and say “these deals were great, they were based on the beloved metrics that we value!” and “These other signings were terrible, they were clearly based on other, crappier matrics!”

          Even the misguided extensions count, too. They’re all part and parcel of the “locking up the hometown dude long-term” mindset, whatever the motivation.

          -10 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • momomoses7 says:

          Except the Howard deal isn’t really “using hindsight,” everyone knew that deal sucked when he signed it and said so. Ryan Howard is not a superstar, he is a power hitter who produces heavily in the money categories. The fact that Philadelphia can’t tell the difference between those two doesn’t mean he automatically joins the former category.

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        • Nathaniel Dawson says:

          So if he produces in the “money” categories, shouldn’t he be shown the money?

          -15 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Jon C says:

          “The fact that Philadelphia can’t tell the difference between those two doesn’t mean he automatically joins the former category.”

          But doesn’t this article argue (in part) that these deals are self-selected for players who are likely to perform well, BECAUSE teams have superior information about their own players? That Philly apparently misjudged Howard’s value goes precisely to the question of whether hometown resignings tend to be worth it.

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      • Jeff T says:

        “What’s WAR?” — Ruben Amaro Jr.

        +24 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • smallflowers says:

        Vernon. Wells.

        By WAR, a young star.

        +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Bones says:

          Much better example than Howard. Not quite on the level of (most of) the players mentioned above, but he was a 28 year old athletic CF coming off a 4 year run where he averaged 4+ WAR per season. Also, as a Torontonian, I can vouch for the fact that VW was viewed as a HUGE star in the city at the time. Howards collapse was easily predictable, VW’s was not.

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        • Mike says:

          And yet, he didn’t turn out as poorly as everyone anticipated for the blue jays.

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        • smallflowers says:

          I’ll add another two mega-deals for the homegrown star type: both of Derek Jeter’s contracts. He, of course, clearly fits in with Dave’s narrative (HOF, legacy player, etc).

          I don’t think Wells negates what Dave is getting at, which I believe is spot-on, but I do think he should be included in the conversation. There was a clear line between Howard and Wells/Fielder at the time of their respective deals. Wells lacked/s the plate discipline of nearly every other hitter on the list (other than Cano, the hallmark of a super/star?), but played CF, hit in the middle of a tough lineup, and was the co-face of the team (with Doc).

          I’m no expert on these things, but it seems to me like Toronto and Philly are mid-market teams that can play up to a higher market when they are winning. I think both the Howard and Wells deals were attempts to either keep the good times rolling (Phillies) or get back to the green green astroturf of home (Jays). Most (all?) of the other deals Dave highlights were given out by teams that were competitive, play-off type teams at the time OR that are big market clubs (Mets/Wright, LA/Kemp).

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      • Nathaniel Dawson says:

        Depends on your definition of star. Is it solely based on a player’s contribution on the field, or does it include how the fans view that player?

        I don’t see that giving an extension to Howard was inherently flawed. How much they gave him was the real problem.

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      • mike says:

        The Phillies’ belief in Howard as a “star” is enough to make it a “star contract”. Its the counter-example to the article, but since we’re dealing with people and trends here it really doesn’t matter how many counter-examples there are if the overall trend continues in some form or some niche. If the rest of the league goes the other way, it will never disprove the fact that the Reds won with the Votto deal, the Brewers with Braun, etc.

        If, say, the Braves signed Jason Heyward to this kind of deal and he flopped over the next 5, you wouldn’t say these kind of deals are a bad idea, you would say the Braves chose the wrong player. Basically, they didn’t execute the plan laid out by the other clubs. So, the Phillies probably tried this out with Howard and I blame Howard for not being a HOFer more than I blame the Phillies. At least they didn’t blow it on Jason Werth like their rivals did.

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    • that guy says:

      You may be entitled to your opinions, but not your facts. That comment is a moderate re-telling of who Ryan Howard was, especially in light of your comments about Prince Fielder deal, motivated by nothing more than confirmation bias and subjective opinions.

      713 FT games for Howard prior to signing his deal. 17.9 WAR (4.1 WAR/162 games).

      959 FT games for Prince prior to signing his deal. 20.7 WAR (3.5 WAR/162 games).

      The problem was, as you correctly hint, that the Phillies did not appropriately consider Howard’s age in the contract equation.

      But your claim that “the Phillies didn’t understand that Ryan Howard was not a star” makes me wonder if you understand this either. Because by your logic, Ryan Howard *was* a star. The problem was that he should have been paid like one leaving his prime, not entering it. If there’s something to fault the Phillies on it’s that.

      Oh, but that doesn’t fit with your narrative about Howard and the Phillies? Well, keep that in mind the next time you’re criticizing one of the old school sports writers for valuing narrative, because frankly, you fit right in in that way.

      +27 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • jim says:

        staring in incredulity at people, on fangraphs, actually discussing the merits of ryan howard’s contract, in 2013.

        +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Kevin says:

        3 years before contract: Howard, 10.3 WAR, Fielder 13.7 WAR
        Age at contract: Howard 30, Fielder 27.

        Evidently in some kind of alternative retard universe (commonly known as Philadelphia), that isn’t a much better starting performance from a guy in a much better place on the aging curve.

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        • Charlotte says:

          Anyone who disagrees with you will just see that you used an asshole word and immediately ignore everything else you say, even though you’re right.

          Don’t ruin your own arguments with words like retard, guy.

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        • Kevin says:

          Who cares what people that retarded think, guy?

          -19 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Ian R. says:

        Looking at Howard’s numbers from just before he signed the contract is misleading because he signed years before the extension actually started. Posey is also a year away, granted, but he’s projected to get better in that year, not decline. And, as mentioned, Fielder was much younger than Howard.

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      • B N says:

        For an additional reason why this is just stupid logic, the Phillies already had Howard under contract for two additional years when they extended him. Prince was actually a free agent. So really, you’re actually comparing signing a 27 year old Prince Fielder against extending a 32 year old Ryan Howard two years in advance. Which, if that sounds stupid, it is. And I like Ryan Howard. But that move was just dumb.

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  2. Cody says:

    This was brilliantly written. The only difference between this and Shakespeare is that this includes Buster Posey.

    Dave Cameron – 1, Shakespeare – 0

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    • White Blood Cells says:

      To spend or not to spend. That is the question.
      Whether tis nobler for the team to hand over
      to their star players outrageous fortune
      Or to spend money on a sea of Free Agents
      And by signing, keep them; to win, to lose
      No more

      +123 Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. rubesandbabes says:

    How can Fangraphs claim any baseball cred when they refer to Josh Hamilton as “a clearly inferior player?”

    Duh. No.

    All big contract sabermetric calculations, pegging WAR to dollars, et cetera, even the ones calculating for the fast-moving Magic Johnson environment – don’t even bother. It will not be close to correct.

    Probably King Felix’ deal contains northward of $60mil in insurance premiums, but don’t look to read about that on Fangraphs, or what the real total risk, year-by-year for the Mariners is.

    Okay, hit the down thumb, sycophants.

    The dark. In the dark and claiming understanding?

    -73 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • marcello says:

      Roll Tide

      +23 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Dave Cameron says:

      Buster Posey, 2013 projections:

      Steamer: 6.4 WAR
      ZIPS: 6.2 WAR
      Oliver: 5.1 WAR
      Fans: 6.9 WAR

      Josh Hamilton, 2013 projections:

      Steamer: 2.9 WAR
      ZIPS: 3.2 WAR
      Oliver: 4.7 WAR
      Fans: 3.9 WAR

      If you don’t think Buster Posey is a better player right now than Josh Hamilton, there’s something wrong with you.

      +71 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • rubesandbabes says:

        Why in the world would you need to say there’s ‘something wrong with you?”

        The author does not choose the reader.

        And Hamilton being paid until age 34 is not really that big a deal in relative baseball contract insanity.

        Sooo, about those Mariner insurance premiums on King Felix – you were saying, Dave?

        -53 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Steve says:

        I’m not going to tell you how to spend your time, but I don’t think this one was worth the response….

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • commenter #1 says:

        dave don’t feed the trolls, just ban them

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Baltar says:

          He may be a troll, but he has the right to make his comment, just as you have the right to flame him and Dave has the right to snap back at him.
          But he certainly didn’t do anything that deserves being banned.

          +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • jaysfan says:

        what’s with the Oliver projections?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jack Strawb says:

        That Posey, whose only season close to 6 wins was heavily dependent on a BABIP he’s unlikely to repeat, is likeliest to be worth north of 6 wins is pretty silly.

        This is only a good deal for SF if you think Posey’s 2012 wasn’t heavily influence by luck. It’s also

        I’m also surprised no one’s phrased the issue correctly. It’s

        “should the Giants have signed Posey for his age 30-34 seasons for around $115m?” Bench, Piazza, and Little Pudge at those ages wouldn’t have been worth Posey’s deal, and they were better than Posey.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • jdm says:

          Posey’s BABIP went from .326 to .368 a 0.032 jump so that must have been extreme luck right? It couldn’t have been caused by a 6% increase in LD%?

          Using slash 12′s xBABIP average coefficients from 2009-2011 we could get a rough approximated change in BABIP – 6% increase in LD% times .740 with about a 6% decrease in GB% times .195 comes out to … 0.0327?

          This is not to say that these ratios stabilize this quickly – there will still be fluctuations but to claim his WAR was predicated upon luck is a bit extreme.

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        • Baltar says:

          jdm, I also have issues with jack’s comments, but using a totally non-predictive statistic such as LD% to bolster your opinion was a poor choice.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Brett says:

          In Posey’s first two years, 2010-2011, he played a total of 153 games and got 628 PAs. This is roughly a full season’s worth of time given that he played 148 games and got 610 PAs from 2012. In that first “season”, he had a 128 wRC+ on a .318 BABIP and was worth 5.5 WAR. As a rookie.

          Posey was a 5.5 win rookie and a 7.6 win MVP in his second season. Who looks pretty silly now?

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        • smallflowers says:

          Dustin Pedroia looks mildly silly now.

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        • TKDC says:

          How much lower would Posey’s 2012 BABIP have had to be for his WAR to be under 6.0?

          And the results of Rodriguez (18.8 WAR) and Piazza (20.6 WAR) age 30-34 would absolutely be worth $115 million 5-9 years from now. That is $6.1 million and $5.6 million per WAR.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

    • rusty says:

      I would respond more directly to the argument in the second half of your post if I could figure out what it was. Contracts in pro sports are almost all insured, but neither the team nor the insurer is especially anxious to release their risk-rating publicly, which is why we can’t look to read about it here or anywhere else.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • piratesbreak500 says:

        The new york times or post had a really good article about how insurance in professional baseball works, bu it didn’t get into monetary specifics over the premiums. If you want to google, it had to do with A-Rod and what missing his season would mean for the Yanks.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • commenter #1 says:

      maybe someday people will stop posting these stupid troll comments

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    • Posey Over Hamilton says:

      I take Posey over Hamilton all day long and I love Josh Hamilton. Posey is just that good.

      That said, moving Posey off catcher (which I’m pretty sure everyone believes will happen in the next 2-4 years) dramatically compromises his value – especially when we are talking about WAR.

      I wonder how “valuable” Posey would look if you stash him at 1st base starting in 2015 and apply a typical age regression to his WAR. The differences may not end up being all that significant between Posey and Hamilton. I’m sure the Giants would be thrilled to get a 387 wOBA from Posey’s age 32 season. Frankly, there is a very good chance that by the time Posey would reach his age 32 season that he won’t be nearly as valuable as Josh Hamilton is today.

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      • commenter #1 says:

        he’ll be 29 in 2015. Let’s say he’s a full-time (ie 150+ games) 1B, a 0 defender, and a 130 wRC+ hitter. (apply error measurements at your own discretion, I’m just using a baseline) That’s about a 3-4 win player, think the 2012 seasons of Pujols, Craig, or Goldschmidt.

        Now, I don’t think he’ll have been moved off catcher by then, but that’s just me.

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      • thirteenthirteen says:

        Who is this “everyone” who thinks Posey is going to move to first in the next 2-4 years? Posey himself has said repeatedly that he wants to catch and plans to catch as long as he can. I wouldn’t be surprised if he moved to first at the end of the contract, but two years? He’ll only be 28 years old, I don’t see any reason why he can’t continue catching for several more years past that.

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        • jim says:

          even mauer spent half of 2012 catching, and he’ll spend a lot of time there this year too. and he’s bigger and taller than posey

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        • Baltar says:

          jim, I don’t get what size has to do with it.

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        • jim says:

          being too big to stay an effective catcher is the reason players get moved off catcher. so long as posey remains an effective catcher, he’ll stay there

          Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Ben says:

    Posey was under contract already through 2017. What they did, effectively, was buy his 30-34 years, which was as you note tend to be the decline years for a catcher. It seems somewhat unlikely he’d end up making more in arbitration. Seems like the Giants took on a lot of risk. But, I guess this is just what teams do now.

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    • Goofus says:

      He was under control, not under contract. There’s a pretty big difference. This deal not only buys out free agent years, but gives them surety in his arb years. Pretty big deal given how salaries are going crazy.

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      • Ben says:

        They’re paying 80ish million dollars for surety on his arb years then. 85 million is paid for the 2013-2017 period, for an AAV of 17.08 million a year. His arbitration awards were have to escalate massively to get him past 17.08 AAV. Which could happen. But not enough to dent the remaining 80 million.

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  5. Brian says:

    Boras may advise his clients, but the players make the final call. Assuming Harper produces this season as many are expecting, you might as well offer him 10 years (5 years of club control included with 5 years of FA) $180-190 million to see if he bites. Sure, he could wait five years for a $300 million payday, but he’s taking on a lot of risk. Ditto for Trout, Stanton and Heyward, although the latter would probably get closer to $150 million. They might say no, but at least you can say you tried to keep them around for a while.

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    • Baltar says:

      That makes good sense to me. Maybe the teams are already doing that. The players just might accept. Let us remember that Lincecum supposedly turned down $100M for 5 years last offseason, against my advice. I’ll bet he’d like to have that money now.

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  6. Joe says:

    While catchers break down earlier than any other position, I am not convinced that Posey will break down at the same rate as other catchers. Remember, he didn’t start catching until middle of his college career, unlike most catchers who have been doing it since high school (this is an assumption, as I have no idea where I can find numbers to back up the high school claim). That’s 3-6 years less wear and tear than everybody else.

    On the other hand, there’s absolutely no way to know what that ankle injury will do to his prolonged health. Could be a non-factor since it happened when he was so young, or it could counteract the fewer years of being in the squat.

    Just some food for thought.

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  7. GottaIch116 says:

    Great Post Dave! On a side note, can we update the salary columns on the player value tables? Is there a way to do this automatically when someone enters a new contract at the bottom of the player page? Reading your comments about Tulowitzki made me want to compare his actual value to his salary. Thanks!

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  8. StlFan says:

    You have to be discerning about these things. Signing Joey Votto for 12 years until he’s 40 can be a bad idea at the same time that signing Posey through age 34 is good.

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  9. History will judge this contract. Not Internet articles written within minutes of its signing.

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  10. James Gualtieri says:

    This is somewhat of an aside, but can a fangraphs writer write something about how completely arbitrary the arbitration process is. How does a catcher coming off an MVP season get $8 mil in arbitration. On the other hand, why does the arbitration number always go up.

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  11. Metsox says:

    I second that motion. Would love to see an in depth look at the arbitration process…

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  12. BIP says:

    What I’m curious about is, did the Rockies really see all this coming, or did they make an awful decision and just get lucky? Same with the Brewers.

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  13. Kazinski says:

    Tim Lincecum probably wishes he had taken the Giants offer of a long term deal a few years ago. It could end up costing him up 50-60m at least.

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    • Goofus says:

      It was just last off-season, but yeah, Cain and Posey are probably now getting money that had been ear-marked for Lincecum.

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  14. enhanced performance says:

    I am confused about the Tulowitzki reference. He had a 0.4 War last year. What was the return on their investment for 2012? He had some great years already but some of these young players with injury concerns that light the world on fire end up being like Chase Utley. He would not get 20 million on the open market now and he had 5 consecutive seasons of 7+ WAR (meaning he was great). I know the ages don’t match up but we know Utley is compromised as a player because of injuries and age not just age. Even the great Troy Tulowitzki may be an albatross contract. It just is not known yet. I think it is a high risk contract.

    It is rarely good business to spend money because you think revenues will rise forever. That is bubble economics and if any thing should be learned from macroeconomics it should be to tighten up your investment strategies when times look good. Great times never last and you want to have a Canadian balance sheet rather than a Greek balance sheet when the day of reckoning comes. You stat heads should know this.

    Spending a lot and getting 8 to 10 years of hall of fame talent works fine. Still I would really rethink a lot of these contracts even if they look good after a couple of years. Players often decline rapidly. Even sensational talents frequently fizzle out. There is value is flexibility. Does Billy Beane sign his players to long term deals early?

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    • jim says:

      if by .4 you mean 1.4, for which he was paid $8.25m. which was already in the terms of his previous contract, so the first year he will play under the extension is really 2014

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  15. enhanced performance says:

    On baseball-reference.com his war was listed as 0.4. I could be reading it wrong. It is true that the first year in the extension is really 2014 but I am saying that it is a risk because of the poor production he provided last year. I like Tulowitzki but I think it is concerning that he might not be healthy. If he does not stay healthy the Rockies might regret the extension.

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  16. glib says:

    My question is, including the previous major injury, the arb years, the catcher-pitcher value difference, and all other relevant boundary conditions: do you like the Verlander or the Posey deal best?

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    • Petruchio says:

      Verlander’s deal is the better one, because Verlander has never been injured. Even if Posey’s injury was a “freak” injury caused by external factors and not a breakdown of his own body, it still happened and will always impact his ability to play catcher in some form.

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      • Baltar says:

        Last time I checked, Verlander was still a pitcher, by far the most injury-prone position. From a team point of view, I see the Verlander contract as poor, the Posey contract so-so.

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  17. That Guy says:

    The Royals locking up Gordon last year. THAT was genius. Or maybe not since Dayton Moore still doesn’t know what he’s doing.

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    • Amish_Willy says:

      What about Andrew McCutchen, the difference between he and Posey is interesting. Posey had 28 more days of service time which bumped him to Super-2 status, but both guys had four years until free agency at the time of their extensions. Clearly Posey would earn more in arbitration, but the contrast between the two contracts (6/51m vs. 9/167m) is hard to comprehend. Add in the fact that McCutchen played a ton more up to that point (1824 PA vs. 1255) and it just seems crazy that the contrast is so huge.

      Obviously you would rather sign a guy long-term before a MVP caliber season than after, which is a big part of what happened here. Who knows in a reverse world where Posey doesn’t get hurt in 2011 if this wouldn’t have been taken care of a year sooner… one would hope, and Giant fans please share any rememberances.

      It will be interesting to see how this deal plays out compared to Mauer’s. Mauer was a lot further along in his career, he was a year older at the time of his deal and started his career a year earlier, giving him 2 additional years. Mauer’s deal goes through his age 35 season, a year older then Posey’s. Anyways, Mauer accumulated 1739 more plate appearances (2994 vs. 1255) and a 14.5 WAR advantage (27.4 vs. 12.9) at the time of each signing their respective deals, and remember only a year age difference.

      Anyways, I think Pirate fans should give a little shoutout to the baseball gods for their good fortune on the McCuthchen front. Just imagine if they waited and tried to work something out now… they’d be in the same place the Giants were with Posey or the Dodgers were with Kemp, which would probably be a deal breaker for the franchise in terms of feasibility.

      This contract could easily prove to be a bargain, particularly if he finds himself playing as much as Jason Kendall did during the duration of his 6/60m deal (avg 650 PA season). Posey may have done less than either Kendall or Mauer, but power is a much bigger part of his game, and at his age, he could/should blow the others out of the water considering Mauer’s was a one year power spike and that wasn’t really a big part of Kendall’s game, even though he had a couple of .170+ ISO seasons. Posey’s a legit .200 guy.

      Think this deal will be a win-win for both parties.

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  18. ezb230 says:

    I like the idea of this contract but not the timing. Why not wait a year and see if his 2nd-half performance is sustainable. Would he have not accepted a similar deal next year if he replicated last year? Maybe all the money in the game means the price would have been the same regardless, but it just seems like SF is paying for what might well end up being a career year.

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    • Mike says:

      Of course his second half performance is not sustainable. It just doesn’t have to be for him to be worth this contract. If he sustained that he’d be the best player in the game by a very wide margin and be worth insane amounts of money. If he puts up another huge year he’s another year closer to free agency, is less risky, and his price could skyrocket. The Giants got a reasonable deal which makes everyone happy, I don’t see a problem with it.

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      • ezb230 says:

        I wasn’t talking about his value or arguing that we won’t be worth this contract. My question is whether they might have saved money by waiting. I have to believe that his second half coupled with the team’s success contributed to his asking price and the team’s willingness to meet it. If we suspect that both he and the team are unlikely to repeat their respective performances, then it’s reasonable to assume that the team’s bargaining position would have improved by next offseason. (But as I mentioned above,it is possible that salaries will continue to increase such that signing him now at any cost is worth it).

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      • ezb230 says:

        And it is obvious that his price will skyrocket if he stays healthy and puts up another huge year. But you concede that this sort of performance is not sustainable, and that’s even if he stays healthy, which given his position and history is no sure thing. Personally, I’d want more data before deciding on him than I might for, say, Mike Trout or Ryan Braun.

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  19. dan m says:

    I think this is a good deal for the Giants. They are locking up his entire prime and he plays a premium position. It compares favourably to the Mauer, Votto, Fielder, Kemp, and Tulowitzki deals. The only one I like as much or better is the Longoria contract. Even if he has to move to first base in 4 or 5 years his offensive production would still make him a 5-6 WAR player in spite of the downgrade due to positional adjustment. With inflation a 5 WAR player will likely be worth 30 million 5 years from now and he will be making far less than that. Health is the only concern and his injury, while very serious, was a freak accident. He has not had chronic leg issues like Mauer did before he got his payday.

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    • Baltar says:

      Your point is well-taken. However, Longoria playing 3B is a 5-6 WAR player right now. Playing 1B in 4-5 years, he would probably be a 3-4 WAR player.

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  20. Hunter Pence's thorax says:

    Buster Posey has chunks of guys like Josh Hamilton and Ryan Howard in his stool.

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  21. robertloucksjr says:

    Does Posey have to move to 1B if he moves off of catcher? Didn’t he play SS in college. He might be able to move to 3B or 2B making the value adjustment much less than moving to 1B. I think Belt is going to have 1B locked down long-term.

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    • Graham says:

      There’s been talk of him possibly moving to third, but as far as I know that’s pure speculation. It may be an option if he has to move off catcher in the near future.

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    • That Guy says:

      That might be a nice infield in 2015 of Sandoval, unnamed SS, Posey, and Belt.

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    • Nate says:

      I bet he eventually goes to third after leaving catcher, but it probably depends a lot on the Giants roster contents at that point in time.

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  22. Yehuda Hamer says:

    I am always skeptical on catchers for their careers for staying fully healthy.

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  23. NickGerli says:

    At some point I expect the pendulum to swing in the other direction. It’s reasonable to expect a paucity of high caliber FAs hitting the market over the next 4-5 years, which should dramatically drive up the price of those who do. This will drive up the asking price for long term deals, and teams might become more averse to giving them out. We’ll see though.

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  24. CARSON says:

    Let’s not forget that there are such things to consider as marketing and public goodwill to consider in these deals. Posey is this generation’s Joe Montana in San Francisco and that has tangible economic value.

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  25. Dave says:

    “salaries in baseball aren’t going down.” This was said about the US housing market. I’m not saying that salaries will crack during the length of the Andrus or Posey contracts, just saying that statements like these have been known to turn out foolish. These advertising mega-deals are costs to the baseball fan…they aren’t free money.

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