Sabean: Posey a once in a lifetime player

Posey: 'It's just an incredible feeling'

Sabean: Posey a once in a lifetime player
March 29, 2013, 9:15 pm
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Buster Posey signed a 9-year, $167 million contract on Friday that will keep him with the Giants until 2022. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

SAN FRANCISCO – No shortage of Giants officials showed up Friday to discuss Buster Posey’s landmark nine-year contract.

They offered different thoughts but pointed to the same basic conclusion: The reigning National League Most Valuable Player was very much worth such a historic investment.

The nine-year, $167 million contract Posey received Friday is the longest major league deal ever given to a catcher. It’s the largest contract in Giants history – in terms of length and dollar amount – and a definitive statement at how much the brain trust values Posey as the foundation of the team for years to come.

“Certainly he’s a player that comes around either once in a baseball life, or not that often,” general manager Brian Sabean said.

There’s no debating that Posey, who just turned 26 on Wednesday, is off to one of the greatest starts in the history of the game. He has yet to log three complete years in the bigs and already owns a Rookie of the Year award, a batting title, an MVP trophy and two World Series rings.

Factor in that Posey plays catcher, one of the game’s most demanding positions, and hits cleanup, and agent Jeff Berry had one mighty case to make for his client when he sat down to negotiate with the Giants.

It also proved a challenge, according to Giants assistant G.M. Bobby Evans, because it was tough finding players to compare Posey to in building the framework for a deal.

“You just don’t see what we have here very often,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. Posey hit an N.L.-best .336 last season with 24 home runs and 103 RBIs. His catcher’s ERA of 3.36 is the best in the majors since he broke in during the 2010 season.

His previous one-year, $8 million contract for 2013 was re-worked into a $7 million signing bonus and base salary of $3 million. Going forward, Posey is due $12.5 million in ‘14, $16.5 million in '15, $20 million in '16 and $21.4 million for each of the next five years. The Giants hold a $22 million option for 2022, when Posey will be 35, or else he gets a $3 million buyout.

Posey said he relished the thought of potentially playing his entire career in orange and black.

“It’s hard to put into words what I feel right now,” Posey said. “… You get kind of spoiled when you win a World Series in your first year. These fans, the Giants community, I don’t see how you could play here and not want to spend your career here.”

No doubt there’s hefty risk for the Giants. Catchers play a grueling – and dangerous – position. Exhibit A: That violent home-plate collision with Florida’s Scott Cousins in 2011, when Posey suffered a broken leg and strained ankle ligaments and missed the final four-plus months of the season.

Posey is slated to play some first base this season, as he did in 2012, but he said Friday “my passion is to be behind plate for as long as I can.”

He’s the second cornerstone player the Giants have committed big money to in the past year. Right-hander Matt Cain signed a six-year, $127.5 million contract right before Opening Day of last season.

Team CEO Larry Baer said a number of factors went into awarding Posey his contract.

“This is really, by any measure, the largest and boldest commitment we’ve ever made to a player,” Baer said. “In order to make commitments like this, we have to look at some other measures too, and look at the person.”

Posey earns high marks in the character department, and during his news conference, he went down the line of officials sitting with him at the podium, thanking Baer, Sabean, Bochy, Evans and Berry, his agent, along with the team’s medical and training staff for helping him come back from his 2011 injuries.

Sabean credited Evans’ role in working to get a deal finalized, and he said it was important the Giants hammered out a contract once negotiations on such a hefty deal began.

Sabean added that the extraordinarily high price tag was, in his opinion, worth it to keep Posey in the fold long term.

“Our organization really turned on a dime when this fellow came to the big leagues.”

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