He and the Giants agreed to terms on the most lucrative contract in franchise history on Friday, an eight-year, $167 million extension.
The deal locks in Posey's value, as well as Posey himself. The club assured itself of cost certainty with a contract that covers Posey's three remaining years of salary arbitration and five years of free agency. It includes a club option for 2022 and, according to a source familiar with the deal, a full no-trade provision.
"It's the most incredible feeling, knowing that the next nine years I'll be a part of this very storied franchise," Posey said.
The 26-year-old has gilded the franchise's glory. Posey's coming off a 2012 campaign in which he hit .336 with 24 home runs and 103 RBIs, won the National League Most Valuable Player Award and helped the Giants earn their second World Series title in three years. In 2010, the club's other World Series-winning season, Posey captured the NL Rookie of the Year Award.
Posey became the first catcher to win the NL MVP Award in 40 years and the first to win the league's batting title in 70 years. He's also just the third catcher to win the MVP and World Series in the same season, along with Hall of Famers Roy Campanella (Brooklyn Dodgers, 1955) and Yogi Berra (New York Yankees, 1951). Posey and St. Louis' Stan Musial are the only players to perform for two World Series champions and win an MVP Award in their first three Major League seasons.
"If he's not the face of the franchise, he's certainly a player that comes around once in a baseball life, or not that often," Sabean said of Posey.
Posey's accomplishments and the relatively brief time in which he achieved them partly explain the contract's value and the challenge the Giants faced in negotiating the deal with his agent, Jeff Berry of CAA. Few players compare to him.
"We had a hill to climb to try to get on the same page," Sabean said, mixing his metaphors but not his meaning. Sabean recalled emphasizing to club president and chief executive officer Larry Baer as talks began that wasting Berry's time would be a mistake.
"CAA, and Jeff especially, are deal-makers," Sabean said. "I told Larry, as we contemplated how we would go forward, that Buster is the type of player who deserves this entree. But if we're going to get in negotiations, we have to be committed to sign this player. You don't get into negotiations just for the sake of seeing where you think it's going to go. You have to be all-out committed."
The Giants complied with a commitment that's nothing short of historic. It's a record guarantee for a player with fewer than three years of service time. Colorado outfielder Carlos Gonzalez set the previous standard with his seven-year, $80 million contract. It's also the biggest financial obligation to a player with fewer than four years of service time, exceeding the $151.45 million Colorado committed to first baseman Todd Helton for 11 years.
Technically, the contract spans nine years, including this season, which represents the longest deal in history for a catcher. It also ranks second among catchers in total value. Minnesota's Joe Mauer signed an eight-year, $184 million extension in 2010, though his deal did not wipe out any arbitration years. In Giants annals, Posey's contract eclipsed the six-year, $127.5 million deal that right-hander Matt Cain signed last year for what was the franchise's richest pact.
Posey will receive a $7 million signing bonus, according to the source. Having previously settled for $8 million this year, Posey now will receive $3 million in 2013, $10.5 million in '14, $16.5 million in '15, $20 million in '16 and $21.4 million per year from 2017-21. The 2022 club option is worth $22 million, with a $3 million buyout. Posey also will contribute $50,000 per year to Giants charities.
"This is, by any measure, the largest and boldest commitment we've ever made to a player," Baer said, adding that the Giants also were investing in Posey's renowned character. "There are certain elements that give us a lot of comfort in making this kind of commitment. His professionalism, work ethic, maturity ... the way he plays the game with humility."
The deal's timing was significant, since both sides reportedly wanted to finish negotiations before Opening Day. The Giants begin defense of their World Series championship on Monday in Los Angeles.
Fortunately for the Giants, Posey maintained a genuine desire to stay in San Francisco long-term.
"I don't see how you can play here and not want to spend your career here," Posey said, citing the near-sellout crowd that gathered at AT&T Park for Thursday night's exhibition game against the Oakland A's. "It just goes to show you the love these fans here have not only for Giants baseball, but I think for baseball in general."
Posey will reach age 35 if he plays through the contract's option year, prompting the issue of how long he can catch and remain productive offensively. Posey indicated that he would be willing to switch positions "if it's something we felt would help the team." But, he added, "My passion is definitely to be behind the plate for as long as I can."
That possibility thrilled Posey's teammates.
"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 [management has] 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."
Said shortstop Brandon Crawford, "Hopefully I can be here for all nine years."
Citing the combination of Posey's deal and the offseason re-signings of center fielder Angel Pagan, second baseman Marco Scutaro and left-hander Jeremy Affeldt, Crawford added, "That says a lot about the confidence our front office has in us."
To the Giants' executives, it's all money well-spent, particularly in Posey's case.
"There's a general good feeling that everybody won," Sabean said.