COHN: Giants shouldn't rush to make deal with Buster Posey
Published: Saturday, March 23, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, March 23, 2013 at 10:51 p.m.
Should the Giants lock up Buster Posey to a long-term deal? Should they do it right now?
The question is pertinent — you might say essential — because the Giants and Posey's representatives are talking right now. They are talking quietly, no big announcements, no trumpet fanfares. But they definitely are talking.
Posey wants a 10-year deal worth many millions of dollars. This has been reported. And Posey, almost certainly the best player in the National League, can make a strong case for a contract that would last a decade. Like:
He was the National League Most Valuable Player in 2012.
He was the NL batting champ in 2012.
He has led — along with others — the Giants to two world championships in three seasons.
In 2010 he was NL Rookie of the Year.
He handles the great Giants' pitching staff like nobody's business.
He is a dream teammate. He never pulls an attitude and he's always prepared and his temperament is even and predictable. People who know constantly compare him to Derek Jeter. He has that kind of dignity about him. He is the face of the Giants and it's worth noting his face is quite an improvement from the Giants' former face, Barry Bonds — a sourpuss.
He is young, will turn 26 on Tuesday.
So, there is every reason to consider a 10-year megadeal for Posey. And remember, it's not your money at stake. It's Giants' money, something they have plenty of.
Now, for a note of caution, and please don't take this as criticism of Posey, who, so far, is above criticism:
Ten years is an awfully long time in baseball years, especially for a catcher, especially for a catcher who suffered a seriously busted leg. Ten years is unprecedented for a catcher, and remember Posey will be 35 at the end of the contract.
You might say, “Sure, Posey is a catcher now. But the Giants can — and will — move him to first base in the future.”
Indeed they will, but Posey is not worth as much to them as a first baseman. As a catcher, he is absolutely unique. This is something for the Giants to think about before forking over big money in a hurry.
A 10-year contract is risky — we could be talking $180 million for the decade. Do the Giants want to take that risk right now? It's not like they've always done well with big deals.
Until last year's playoffs, everyone — yes, everyone — considered Barry Zito's contract the worst in baseball, a crime against sane contracts. It was seven years for $126 million. And even though Zito redeemed himself in the postseason, he didn't redeem himself THAT much.
Or remember this dud — Aaron Rowand five years at a cool 60 mil. Money out the window.
Not to mention Aubrey Huff's two-year deal in 2010 for $22 million. Money down the drain.
And never forget the Giants wanted to lock up Tim Lincecum on a long-term contract. Lincecum was a two-time Cy Young Award winner and had leverage. But Lincecum balked at a deal spanning many years — why? — and settled for a two-year contract worth $23 million.
Question of the day: Would you want Lincecum signed for six years at $127.5 million — Matt Cain's deal? The Giants lucked out with Lincecum.
Then there's Albert Pujols. The Angels signed him last season for 10 years at $240 million — the deal will end when Pujols is 41. At the time, Pujols was the best player in baseball, but he got off to a slow start and instantly didn't live up to the contract. The Angels instantly regretted giving it to him. Pujols eventually hit 30 home runs with 105 RBIs, but it's not what the Angels paid for, and Pujols didn't take them where they wanted to go.
This column is a plea for caution, for prudence, for the taking of time.
The Giants control Posey for three more years. This is a fact. What's the hurry in signing him into the distant future? See how the upcoming season plays out. See if he's healthy. See if he's durable. See if he continues to hit like a champ. Be observant. Be businesslike. It's not like Posey is starving. He will earn eight big ones in 2013. That is a record for first-year arbitration settlements. Will you earn eight big ones?
The Giants can give him a big deal for his three remaining arbitration years, they can do it today.
If the Giants want to lock him up, want to make him a lifetime Giant, sure, absolutely. But do it at the right time. Do it after the 2013 season or after the 2014 season. Do it on the Giants' terms. Posey isn't going anywhere.
And do it for 10 years, if it comes to that, but eight would be better.
Signing Posey for what seems like forever may seem urgent right now, but things change and they change fast. This we have learned. And sometimes the unthinkable becomes thinkable.
You want an example?
Willie Mays did not finish his career as a Giant, went back to New York for a curtain call with the Mets. It's important to remember history. The long view speaks its own truth.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.