Brandon Belt

Posey’s future is at first base, not third (and what that could mean for Belt, Sandoval, etc.)

Buster Posey Brandon Belt

The beat writers had a nice, long chat with Bruce Bochy before this evening’s game with the Nationals. I’m not in Washington D.C., but based on a few tweets from our friends Alex Pavlovic and John Shea, we can already start making judgments. Yay! Judging things is fun.

Alrighty. Let’s start judgin’.

Buster Posey will be the Giants’ starting first baseman at some point.

Brandon Belt is under team control (arbitration) for the next three seasons. If Bochy “likes having Susac/Sanchez option just in case,” Belt should probably get his outfielder’s glove broken in. Just in case.

Then again, they could always trade Belt. That’s what I thought they’d do back in October (my reasoning: I had a feeling they’d end up with Jose Abreu), and Belt is an outstanding defensive first baseman. As an outfielder, well, small sample size and such. Trading Belt this offseason seems unlikely, considering he had a weird 2014 season and won’t get much time, if any, to show the league that he’s back from his concussion.

The Giants’ third base options are limited.

If Posey is never going to be the team’s third baseman, the Giants have three options to fill the position next year. 

  1. Re-sign Pablo Sandoval (the expensive option, one that may have kept them from outbidding the Red Sox for Rusney Castillo).
  2. Sign a different free agent third baseman who isn’t as good (maybe they can lure Eric Chavez out of retirement!).
  3. “Ham-and-egg it” with Adam Duvall, Joaquin Arias and others (causing KNBR callers and perhaps even Larry Krueger to have seizures on the air).

It doesn’t sound like Posey wants to play third.

Posey has played 795.2 innings at first base: 17.2% of his big league career. If you even bring up the possibility of a switch to third, he shuts down. Nope. Doesn’t know anything about it. I know this from experience. He’s never rude, but it’s pretty obvious that he’d rather not discuss a move to the hot corner. Maybe it’s because he considers a move to third as a permanent departure from catching, while he can always dabble in some first base work without leaving his true love. And it’s not like third base is the place to put a guy if you’re looking to extend his career. I’m not sure what Posey’s feelings are, but this is surely something Bochy and Posey have discussed internally. Otherwise, Bochy wouldn’t have talked about it today. 

Here’s the hard part: when does Posey make the switch?

I’m not all that sure we’ll see Hector Sanchez catching regularly at the big league level again. His magnetic properties are well known and cringe-inducing — foul balls aren’t going to stop clobbering him, and a perfect concussion-preventing mask doesn’t exist. But Posey’s offensive numbers are demonstrably better at first base, and the injury concerns are starting to mount. Concussions aren’t a worry as of yet (he took a pretty hard shot off his mask last night, but he shook it off and stayed in), but the lower back and hip problems are of a lingering nature.

He’s a good catcher who handles pitchers well (especially ones with good fastball command), and he’s only 27. And he wants to catch. But he’s making a ton of money and the Giants have to maximize what they gain from this contract. He provides ridiculous value as a plus-hitting catcher, but if the injuries mount and/or he could be a .320 average, .900 OPS hitter at first base … it’s an interesting discussion, at the very least. 

This is a subject that has been talked about to death, so it’s probably good that Bochy at least put the kibosh on the third base thing. If it wasn’t going to happen, we were wasting our time blabbering about it. Now we can obsess over when Posey’s days behind the plate are over. Oh, joy.

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