They have a standard five days after the World Series to do so. In Posey’s case, they can negotiate a longer extension or pay him a $3 million buyout. It’s a no-brainer.
The Giants went into the season with the Core Three—Posey, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt—each in the final guaranteed years of their deals. The future for the trio in San Francisco was at best cloudy, at worst bleak.
Then, they all had terrific years. The Giants won a club-record 107 regular season games and the National League West for the first time since 2012, snapping the Los Angeles Dodgers’ eight-year streak.
“Anytime you win this many games you want to keep the group together,” Farhan Zaidi, the Giants president of baseball operations told Sportico on the eve of the NL Division Series starting at Oracle Park. “So, that’s our intention.”
Posey is nearing the end of an eight-year, $159 million guaranteed contract that includes the option as a ninth year.
The two teams are tied 1-1 as the best-of-five series resumes Monday night with Game 3 at Dodger Stadium.
It’s so close that including the playoffs, the teams have each won 108 games and the Giants hold a 11-10 edge in the 21 games they’ve already played against each other.
To punctuate matters, Posey had a pair of run-scoring singles in the game the Giants had to win to clinch the division on the final day of the regular season against the San Diego Padres.
In Game 1 of the NLDS on Friday, Posey gave the Giants a 2-0 lead in what would eventually be a 4-0 win with a two-run opposite field homer into the arcade over the 24-foot-high red brick wall. He narrowly missed becoming the first right-handed hitter to ever smack one into the waters of McCovey Cove beyond the right-field fence.
“That danged column kept me from getting my splash hit,” he said.
In a 9-2, Game 2 loss on Saturday, Posey had three more hits, including a double, giving him a Giants postseason record of 55 total hits in 55 playoff games.
Zaidi has already rewarded the All-Star shortstop Crawford with a two-year extension worth $32 million, keeping him from free agency.
He also intends to address the injured first baseman Belt’s pending free agency as soon the Giants’ season is over. Belt is out of the NLDS with a broken left thumb courtesy of being hit by an inside pitch.
What complicates matters is the ongoing and seemingly stalled negotiations between the owners and players for a Basic Agreement that expires Dec. 1. If a deal is not done by then and Major League Baseball decides to lock out the players, signing free agents under the old five-year deal could cease.
The Giants don’t have that issue with Posey because of the club option.
Zaidi, in his quest to keep the team together, said he also will talk to Belt.
“He’s been a great player for us, and his absence right now is really being felt,” Zaidi said. “He’s a really big part of this team. I’m sure we’ll have those conversations at the appropriate time.”
Posey had come off two lost years, hitting .257 with seven homers and 38 RBIs in 2019, after right hip surgery prematurely ended the previous season. He opted out of the COVID-shortened 60-game 2020 season. All that rest might have been the elixir.
Few could have foreseen a bounce back that harkened to his Rookie of the Year season in 2010 or the year he won NL MVP in 2012, but at 34, he put up numbers like a much younger version of himself: .304, 18 homers and a 140 OPS, plus.
“I really thought Buster was going to have a good year,” said Zaidi, who took over the Giants in 2019 after stints as a baseball executive with the Dodgers and Oakland A’s. “I say that being around him in 2019 and knowing that he was far from 100% physically and was still a solid player.”
With 12 years already logged in the Majors, Posey is the only player remaining from the club’s three World Series-winning teams from 2010 to 2014.
Belt and Crawford, both also 34, played for the teams that won in 2012 and 2014.
Posey and Belt are not the only big decisions the Giants have to make after this surprising season is over, no matter how it turns out.
They also have a $22 million option on pitcher Johnny Cueto with a $5 million buyout. The oft-injured Cueto is not on the NLDS roster, and the assumption is that he’s gone.
Kris Bryant, who the Giants obtained in a July 30 trade deadline deal with the Chicago Cubs, is also a pending free agent. His personal agent is Scott Boras, who always generates the highest price on the market for his clients, so Zaidi assumes keeping the versatile Bryant is going to be tough.
Kevin Gausman, who has been a premier starter for the Giants the past two seasons despite a loss in Game 2, will also be a free agent again. He accepted an $18.9 million qualifying offer from the Giants this past off-season. But under terms of the Basic Agreement the Giants can’t make that kind of offer again. This time he goes into the market unencumbered.
Zaidi knows that success breeds a higher payroll. This season, the Giants got more for their bucks than almost any team in the National League.
Their $163.9 million payroll was 10th in MLB and $103.3 million less than what the Dodgers spent: a record $267.2 million. The Dodgers finished $67.2 million above this year’s $210 million luxury tax threshold and are subject to all kinds of graduated penalties.
The New York Yankees were second with a payroll of $203.3 million and lost their American League Wild Card Game to Boston. The Giants are still going strong, having spent $39.4 million less than the Bombers.
The Giants’ payroll was top heavy with $113.2 million going to six players.
Otherwise, Zaidi, playing Farhan Fantasy Baseball, adeptly worked the waiver wire, picking up a bunch of disparate parts that excelled this year in San Francisco after failures with other franchises.
Anthony DeSclafani ($6 million), Donovan Solano ($3.25 million), Wilmer Flores and Alex Wood ($3 million each), Jake McGee ($2 million), Darin Ruf ($1.275 million) and Mike Yastrzemski ($600,000) are all examples of players who have had a major impact at a very low cost.
Game 1 winner Logan Webb, a fourth-round pick in the 2014 draft and a product of the Giants system, is earning a first-year salary of $583,000.
The Giants have yet to produce a single product from the farm system drafted during the Zaidi era. Guys like Posey, Belt, Crawford, Webb and Austin Slater all were drafted and nurtured during the previous baseball operations department headed by Brian Sabean and Bobby Evans and managed by Bruce Bochy.
Zaidi inherited a very solid foundation and has capitalized on it. Right now, the only big contracts the Giants have on the books for 2022 is Evan Longoria at $19.7 million and Crawford at $16 million. All the other above named players are either signed at a nominal rate, under control or eligible for arbitration.
“Any time you have a season like this it’s a cumulative effect of decisions an organization makes over a long period of time,” Zaidi said. “It’s not something that happens in a year or two, certainly not overnight.”
Posey made the next decision an easy one.