Bay Area Baseball

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March 29, 2013
With Posey deal, Giants lock up the player -- and the person

SAN FRANCISCO -- The overarching message from the Giants today regarding the nine-year, $167 million deal reached with Buster Posey was that Posey's brief -- if impressive -- track record of major-league production was not the only factor in his receiving the largest deal in franchise history.

Giants president and CEO Larry Baer called the deal -- an eight-year extension that will keep Posey with the Giants through 2021 with an option for 2022 -- "the largest and boldest commitment we've ever made to a player." And he stressed that it required the Giants to weigh not only the player, but the person they'd be signing.

"We've gotten to know Buster and his family quite well and there's certain elements that give us a lot of comfort in making this kind of commitment -- his professionalism, work ethic, maturity, his character, the way he plays the game," Baer said. "He plays the game with humility and is somebody you really want to put a franchise around."

That is effectively what the Giants have done with the contract, which will keep Posey in orange and black through at least his age 34 season. With starting pitchers Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner also signed through 2017 -- and the Giants hold options on both for 2018 -- the Giants have a core in place for the foreseeable future.

"It's hard to put into words what I feel right now," Posey said at a news conference where the deal was formally announced. "It's just an incredible feeling knowing that for the next nine years I'll be a part of this very storied franchise. I'm incredibly humbled to know I'll be a part of that."

Posey also made it known that he wants to spend as much of that nine years as possible as a catcher. It will remain a question whether the wear and tear of catching will at some point require a position change to keep Posey's bat in the lineup every day. Posey said if it came to the point where the Giants felt that was best, "obviously I would be up for it."

"But my passion is definitely to be behind the plate for as long as I can," he said.

Indeed, that is part of Posey's value -- he fosters confidence in the Giants' pitching staff while also providing a steady presence in the middle of the order.

"He's not just a guy that's throwing down signs and worrying about putting up good numbers at the plate," right-hander Matt Cain told the Bay Area News Group. "He's really worried about keeping guys from running. He's worried about making sure that everybody throws the ball well.

"I think that's what's great about him. He really does handle both sides, and it's not an easy job to do. I think that's what shows the special talent that he has. It takes a lot on your body to catch and hit. He's done a tremendous job of it so far."

At 26 years old, Posey already owns two World Series rings and an MVP and Rookie of the Year award. Since he arrived in San Francisco in 2010, the Giants have won titles in both seasons he has finished healthy. Last year he returned from the 2011 ankle injury to hit .336, winning the N.L. batting title, with 24 home runs and 103 RBIs.

Those kinds of benchmarks, assistant general manager Bobby Evans acknowledged, lent an aspect of challenge to actually negotiating Posey's deal. Simply, there weren't many comparables for Posey -- the scope of accomplishments at his age and with his MLB service time (2 years, 161 days) -- for the sides to consult.

General manager Brian Sabean said the sides "had a hill to climb to try to get on the same page." Obviously, they were able to find common ground. Posey's agent, Jeff Berry of CAA Sports, joined several members of the Giants brass on the podium at Friday's news conference.

"The irony here is there's a general good feeling that everybody won, everybody accomplished what they needed to accomplish," Sabean said.

For the Giants, that meant locking up a franchise cornerstone they feel will continue to work to improve while inspiring the same ethic in the players around him, regardless of his already notable success.

"He's a kid on a mission that is always learning in the game," Sabean said. "He's humble enough to know that every day you have a chance to get better. That's your job as a professional. And our organization really turned on a dime when this fellow came into the big leagues.

"If he's not the face of the franchise, he's certainly a player that comes around maybe once in a baseball life," Sabean said. "Or not that often."

-- Matt Kawahara

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About Bay Area Baseball

Matt KawaharaMatt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee’s sports staff in fall 2011.
Phone: (916) 321-1015.
On Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

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