Monday, November 26, 2012

Posey could be looking for Mauer-type contract

Following the 2009 season, Joe Mauer was sitting pretty when it came to his contract negotiations with the Minnesota Twins. He was coming off the best season of his career and he was only one full season away from hitting the free agent market. The Baseball Writers Association named him the American League Most Valuable Player and it looked like Mauer could ask for any amount of money that he wanted from his hometown team.

Flash-forward a couple of seasons and a similar situation is beginning to play itself out in San Francisco. A young catcher is coming off of a MVP season and Buster Posey could be looking to cash-in with a long-term deal. Lucky enough for the Giants, Posey will be under their control from 2013-2016 but this could come at a steep cost. It might be a better deal for the club to work on a contract extension this offseason before Posey's value goes any higher.

Will the Giants wait to see what Posey can do for an encore? The Twins were in a tough spot when Mauer was a year away from free agency. If the team didn't get something done before the start of 2010, they risked the chance of losing him as a free agent. For a team starting their first year in a new multi-million dollar stadium, it wouldn't have been good press to let their hometown star test the free agent waters.

The Giants have the opportunity to wait and see if Posey will be able to match his numbers in 2013. He will get a raise as part of the arbitration process but he will still be relatively cheap compared to his value on the field. If the team goes year to year with Posey, there is a chance he will make close to $20 million for the 2016 campaign.

Should Posey get more money than Mauer? When Mauer signed his deal, he would be turning 27 before the start of the next season. This meant his 8-year, $184 million contract would keep him in a Twins uniform through the 2018 season. He will be 35-years old by the end of the deal and he should be on the downside of his career. Mauer's deal ranks him as the highest paid catcher in history but Posey might be in position to break that mark.

Unlike Mauer, Posey went to college before starting his pro career. This put him in a little bit of a hole when getting going in the big leagues. He is now 25-years old and the team can control his rights until he is 29-years old. If the Giants want to avoid some of the costs of the arbitration process, they could look to ink Posey to a deal but it's hard to imagine him getting more than Mauer at this point. One more MVP like season and this could be a different story.

Does less time catching mean less value? As Twins fans saw in 2012, the team was going to try their best to keep Mauer on the field. This meant less time at the catching position after a dreadful 2011 season where he played less than 100 games for the first time since his rookie season. The Twins want to keep Mauer's bat in the line-up on a regular basis and it looks like he will be playing less time at catcher as his career progresses.

Posey also missed a chunk of time in 2011 due to injury after a gruesome collision at home plate broke his leg. This past season he still started over 110 games behind the plate but he did start to rack up some innings at first base. Without a DH in the National League, it looks like the Giants will be forced to continue to use Posey as their primary backstop. This can only help his value when it comes to contract negotiation time.

In the end, Mauer is on pace to be one of the best hitting catchers of all-time. It looks like Posey will be following in Mauer's footsteps as their careers progress. For Posey, he might want to get the type of contract Mauer got from the Twins but he is already beating Mauer in the most important category of all... he has two championship rings.

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