Justin Verlander isn’t the only former MVP getting paid today, as Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com reports that the Giants and reigning NL MVP Buster Posey have agreed to a nine-year contract.
Posey was set to make $8 million this season, but this new contract wipes that away and will pay him $167 million from 2013-2021. In doing so the Giants have bought out Posey’s three remaining seasons of arbitration eligibility (2014-2016) and his first five seasons of free agency (2017-2021), and there’s also an option for 2022.
Posey will be 35 years old in 2022, so this basically makes him a Giant for life. Not bad for a guy who was facing major questions this time last year as he came back from a broken ankle that ended his 2011 season. Posey’s deal is the second-highest in baseball history for a catcher, trailing only Joe Mauer’s eight-year, $184 million contract with the Twins that was signed in March of 2010. Posey now, like Mauer then, is coming off an MVP-winning season that included a batting title, although he was further from free agency than Mauer then.
Here’s the full contract breakdown:
Bonus: $7 million
2013: $8 million
2014: $12.5 million
2015: $16.5 million
2016: $20 million
2017: $21.4 million
2018: $21.4 million
2019: $21.4 million
2020: $21.4 million
2021: $21.4 million
2022: $22 million option or $3 million buyout
To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.
So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”
When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.
Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.