Position change likely in Posey's future
March, 30, 2013
By Buster Olney | ESPN Insider
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty ImagesAt some point, it is likely the Giants will move Buster Posey from catcher to another position.HOUSTON -- Florida State baseball coach Mike Martin will tell you that it was his son's idea, years ago, to move the team's star shortstop to catcher. The Seminoles had a developing surplus in the middle infield and something of a hole at catcher, but the coach wasn't initially interested in the idea, because the shortstop was really good at what he did and was a natural leader.
But the more that Martin thought about it, the more he liked the notion. So he and his son raised the idea with the shortstop, Buster Posey.
It has been as a catcher that Posey has been able to do things that nobody in the history of baseball accomplished in the first two-plus years of his career. A Rookie of the Year, a Most Valuable Player Award, a batting title, all the while playing behind the plate.
When Posey was in spring training for the first time with the Giants, there was some concern about how good of a defensive catcher he would be, because he didn't have a lot of experience at the position. Now the Giants' staff has a lot of respect for Posey in the way he plays, because of his diligence.
At least part of the reason the Giants invested a record-setting contract in Posey is because of what he brings behind the plate, which was demonstrated repeatedly during the team's two championship runs, like how he settled down Jonathan Sanchez in the midst of the 2010 World Series.
But lest there be any doubt, what separates Posey is his offensive ability, his simple approach to the plate. He drives fastballs to the opposite field, he pulls breaking balls, and he is an extraordinary two-strike hitter; last year, only Joey Votto had a higher on-base percentage in two-strike situations than Posey.
So after the Posey deal was announced Friday, some rival talent evaluators began to wonder when the Giants will start to consider moving Posey to another spot.
"He's a great hitter, and you have to protect that, long-term," said a longtime NL scout.
His athleticism and versatility are part of the reason why the Giants were willing to give him the longest contract ever doled out to a catcher. The San Francisco staff knows that, in time, Posey would be able to move to third base or first base and probably play his next position pretty well. Last year, Giants manager Bruce Bochy gave Posey some half-days off by starting him at first in 29 games; he started 111 games at catcher.
The Giants don't really have an heir apparent at catcher, the guy they know could take over for Posey. They have some time to think about that, to develop or acquire another catcher, to see how current first baseman Brandon Belt evolves and to see if Pablo Sandoval will continue to battle his weight issues.
But it figures that the clock has started ticking on Posey's time as catcher, whether it's two years or longer. The Giants got a nightmarish reminder 22 months about how much more risk there is for a catcher, when Scott Cousins ran over Posey and shattered his ankle, and know full well what kind of toll Posey's position can take on a player.
Posey never wavered after he got injured. He wants to be a catcher, having grown to love the position he first tried in college. But the Giants want him in their lineup, for at least the next nine years.
From ESPN Stats & Info, more on the Posey deal: The contract is the longest ever for a catcher and trails only Joe Mauer's $184 million in terms of total value among catchers. It's also the most money ever guaranteed to a player with fewer than three years of service time.
Largest contracts for catchers in MLB history, by total value
Joe Mauer -- $184M -- Twins (2011-18)
Buster Posey -- $167M -- Giants (2013-21)
Mike Piazza -- $91M -- Mets (1999-2005)
Yadier Molina -- $75M -- Cardinals (2013-17)
Catchers to win MVP award, National League history
Buster Posey -- Giants (2012)
Johnny Bench* -- Reds (1970, '72)
Roy Campanella* -- Dodgers (1951, '53, '55)
Ernie Lombardi* -- Reds (1938)
Gabby Hartnett* -- Cubs (1935)
* = Baseball Hall of Famer
Posey deserved this deal, writes Tim Kawakami.
Posey gets to stay with a team he says he loves, writes Henry Schulman.
Pablo Sandoval is back in action and says he'll be ready for Monday's opener.
• It almost goes without saying, given the vast history of pitchers signed to long-term deals, from Wayne Garland to Kevin Brown to Denny Neagle to Mike Hampton to Barry Zito, but these contracts almost never work out.
But if you were going to give a 30-year-old pitcher a contract that could pay him $202 million over the next eight seasons, Justin Verlander would be that guy. Right after he was drafted by the Tigers, he bought a place in Lakeland, Fla., and began moving down there in January to get a jump on his conditioning for spring training. Every winter, he has worked on keeping his legs fit. He has always been in phenomenal condition, he is an exceptional athlete, he has relatively clean mechanics, and like CC Sabathia, he has the kind of understanding of pitching, the vast repertoire and the competitiveness to make it work as he gets older.
With his new deal in place, Verlander hopes to finish his career in Detroit. This is the largest deal ever given to a pitcher, writes Lynn Henning. This marks a great day for Detroit, writes Drew Sharp.
Verlander is the king of social media among the Tigers, writes Adam Graham.
From ESPN Stats & Info, more on the Verlander deal: This topped the Felix Hernandez contract for the richest deal for a pitcher in baseball history. Verlander's contract is for $180 million over seven years with the potential for $202 million if the eighth year vests.
Largest contracts for pitchers in MLB history, by total value
Justin Verlander -- $180M -- Tigers (2013-19)
Felix Hernandez -- $175M -- Mariners (2013-19)
CC Sabathia -- $161M -- Yankees (2009-15)
Zack Greinke -- $147M -- Dodgers (2013-18)
Cole Hamels -- $144M -- Phillies (2013-18)
Justin Verlander, since 2009
Wins -- 78 (1st)
Starts -- 135 (1st)
WHIP -- 1.08 (1st*)
K -- 977 (1st)
Pitcher WAR -- 26.0 (1st)
IP -- 953 2/3 (2nd)
* = Minimum 500 IP
Most 100-plus mph pitches in last four seasons, among starting pitchers (including playoffs)
Justin Verlander -- 170
Ubaldo Jimenez -- 51
Stephen Strasburg -- 18
Andrew Cashner -- 18
Note: Eight others have combined for 22
• With Verlander's deal in place, Clayton Kershaw could be even more expensive. Neither the team nor the pitcher will talk about ongoing negotiations.
If the Dodgers finish the Kershaw deal -- and I think they will, relatively quickly -- it would mean that nearly $700 million will have been doled out to four players in the last week, among Posey, Verlander, Kershaw and Adam Wainwright. And the upcoming free-agent classes have been weakened, again. Right now, the most prominent free-agent pitcher for the fall appears to be Josh Johnson of the Jays, and he'll have a whole lot at stake this summer.
• For Jackie Bradley Jr., the waiting continues.
• Jurickson Profar's time will come, says Jon Daniels.
• Roberto Hernandez beat out Jeff Niemann to make the Tampa Bay rotation.
• C.J. Wilson says communication is a reason why many leave the Rangers.
• J.J. Watt tested his hitting skills Friday.
The fight for jobs
1. There is word within this Derrick Goold notebook that Oscar Taveras is going to do some work in left field.
2. The Royals picked George Kottaras over Brett Hayes.
3. Tyler Colvin was sent to Triple-A.
4. Justin Sellers hopes to be the Dodgers' shortstop.
5. Kyle Blanks was sent to the minors.
Moves, deals and decisions
1. Doug Fister will get the ball in the Tigers' home opener.
2. Mike Matheny intends to shuffle his lineup, if necessary.
3. The Cubs are still trolling for talent, writes Paul Sullivan.
4. The Twins have to decide who their No. 2 hitter is, Mike Berardino writes.
5. Paul Goldschmidt and the D-backs are finishing a five-year deal. An announcement on the deal is expected to come Saturday, writes Steve Gilbert.
6. Charlie Manuel is not settled on how he'll structure his lineup.
7. Wilson Ramos will start over Kurt Suzuki on Opening Day, writes Amanda Comak.
8. The Yankees are still poking around and looking for ways to improve.
9. Brian Roberts is going to hit ninth for the Orioles.
10. Ryan Flaherty made the Orioles' roster.
11. The Orioles added two more pitchers, trading for Scott Proctor and signing Freddy Garcia.
Dings and dents
1. Some guys with the White Sox passed health tests.
2. Luke Scott is likely going on the disabled list.
3. Alex White felt some discomfort in his elbow.
4. Johan Santana's career is not over, says his agent.
5. Alex Rodriguez showed off his latest rehab efforts.
6. Mark Teixeira is optimistic about his return.
Teixeira is diligent and accountable, so it's admirable for him to set a goal for a comeback, but if I worked in the Yankees' front office, I might chat with Teixeira and ask him not to put that kind of pressure on his return. His injury is the sort that can easily regress if he does too much too soon -- and if that happens, he might miss the whole season. For a hitter, this is the type of injury that has to be just about completely healed before he gets back on the field, because of the daily regimen of dozens and dozens of swings and the torque that this places on the wrist. This is not a case of working through soreness, like a hamstring injury; this is a case of rehabilitating functionality.
1. Patrick Corbin dominated.
2. A.J. Ellis was The Man for the Dodgers.
The Rays feel good about their depth.
Some Yankees fans have a sinking feeling, writes Harvey Araton.
Bruce Arthur writes about the rebuilding of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Scott Boras loves his Red Sox, writes Michael Silverman.
AL CentralPaul Hoynes writes about what the possible switch in leagues could do for Michael Bourn and Drew Stubbs.
Ubaldo Jimenez has looked confident this spring.
For the Twins' Cole De Vries, spring training does matter, even down to the last day.
The Mariners are going to be good this year, says Felix Hernandez. Geoff Baker is picking Seattle to finish third this season in the AL West.
Matt Harrison is keeping his head as he prepares for his Opening Day start.
The Rangers' bullpen situation is still a bit blurry, Gil LeBreton writes.
A.J. Griffin has been compared to an established big leaguer, as Susan Slusser writes.
The Oakland bullpen could be really good this year, writes Carl Steward.
There's buzz about these Braves, writes David O'Brien.
It's time to reboot the history of baseball in D.C., writes Thomas Boswell.
Ruben Amaro gave candid answers about his hot seat, writes Sam Donnellon. From Sam's piece:
Q: You've been deemed the village idiot and you've been deemed emperor over your tenure so far. How about you? Do you feel any job vulnerability these days?
A: Listen. I will never make all the right decisions. I will never -- hopefully -- make all the wrong decisions. I have a pretty acute understanding of what our fans want and what is necessary. Listen, nobody wants to win baseball games more than me, and David Montgomery and our ownership group and the rest of this organization. We don't rest a lot. We don't sleep a lot. And the reason why is because we're dedicated to putting the best product on the field that we can. At the same time we may not be able to do that every year. That's the goal.
When I took over I told myself that this franchise, this ownership group, with what they've given me the resources to do. This organization. This fan base most importantly, deserves to have a contender every year. I've talked to David a lot about this. If we keep our payroll north of what the average is, then I should be intelligent enough, our group should be intelligent enough, to put a contending team on the field every year. Whether we're retooling in 2014, transitioning, whatever you want to call it -- we should be good enough to put a contending team on the field every single year. And that's my job and that continues to be my job. So that's the pressure I have, internally. And that's the expectation I have every year. We're going to be a contender every single year. Are we going to win the division and be in the playoffs every year? I don't know that. But that's absolutely the goal every single season.