SAN FRANCISCO — At 26 years old, Buster Posey already is a two-time World Series champion and the National League’s Most Valuable Player. Now he could be a Giant for life.
Posey and the Giants agreed to a nine-year, $167million contract Friday, one that covers his remaining arbitration years and buys out his first five years of free agency. The deal includes a $22million club option for 2022 with a $3million buyout and a full no-trade clause, and it could be worth up to $186million.
If the Giants exercise the 2022 option, Posey would be 35 years old when the deal ends. And he has no plans to be anything other than a catcher.
“My passion is definitely to be behind the plate for as long as I can,” Posey said. “It’s a special position that you really can’t describe until you get back there.”
The contract is the longest ever for a catcher and the largest in Giants history. It also represents a record guarantee for a player with fewer than four years of service time. Team CEO Larry Baer called it “the largest and boldest commitment we’ve ever made to a player” but said Posey’s special personality allowed the Giants to invest with confidence.
“There are 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’s somebody that you really want to put a franchise around.”
Posey will receive a $7million signing bonus and the following yearly salaries: $3million in 2013, $10.5million in 2014, $16.5million in 2015, $20million in 2016 and $21.4million per year in 2017 through 2021. The deal also includes awards bonuses and a promise from Posey to contribute $50,000 per year to Giants charities.
The deal replaces a one-year, $8million deal that Posey signed in the offseason to avoid arbitration. The Giants didn’t face a deadline with Posey, who wasn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season, but management made Posey a priority soon after re-signing second baseman Marco Scutaro, center fielder Angel Pagan and left-hander Jeremy Affeldt in the offseason.
The Giants spent much of the spring negotiating quietly with Posey’s agent, Jeff Berry of CAA Sports.
Posey, a Georgia native, was the Giants’ first-round pick in the 2008 draft and already has developed into the face of the franchise and one of the most recognizable and respected players in all of baseball. Both of his healthy seasons in the big leagues (2010, 2012) have ended with a ticker-tape parade down Market Street.
Posey is the reigning league MVP after a year in which he shook off months of ankle surgery rehab to hit a league-leading .336, with 24 homers and 103 RBIs. He is one of three catchers in history to win the Rookie of Year award, the MVP award and a World Series in his career.
Then again, neither Baer nor general manager Brian Sabean nor manager Bruce Bochy cited a single statistic Friday in discussing the importance of securing Posey for the long term.
“As special a player as he is, he’s more than numbers,” Bochy said.
This is the second consecutive year that the Giants have locked up a franchise cornerstone on the eve of the season opener. Last April2, the Giants announced a six-year, $127.5million extension with ace Matt Cain. Two weeks later, Madison Bumgarner signed a five-year, $35million extension.
“We’re all super excited for Buster,” Cain said. “He’s definitely more than earned what just happened to him. Doing that shows how much faith they have in him and what he’s done in his career. For a starting staff it’s really nice to see that he’s going to be here … forever.”
If the Giants exercise all their team options, Cain, Bumgarner and Posey will anchor the franchise through at least the 2018 season.