Age: March 27, 1987 (31)
Traditional Stats: .284/.359/.382, 22 2B, 3B, 5 HR, 41 RBI
Advanced Stats: 2.9 bWAR, 2.0 fWAR, 106 OPS+, 106 wRC+
Contract: Three years, $66.5 million (2022 option)
Through the first nine years of Buster Posey‘s career, he was on a Hall of Fame track. He was a Rookie of the Year, an MVP, four time Silver Slugger, a Gold Glover, and a three time World Series champion. But now, everything is in a state of flux for a player who is not too far removed from being the definitive best catcher in the game.
On August 27, Posey’s disappointing season was cut short as he needed season ending surgery to remove a bone spur and to repair a torn labrum. The surgery has a 6-8 month rehab, which would mean Posey would be ready to resume playing anytime from Pitchers and Catchers until the beginning of May. For his part, Posey is optimistic he will be ready for Opening Day.
Reasonably speaking, it is not up for debate whether Posey will play next year. What is up for debate is what type of player he will be, or even what position he will be able to play. More than that, with the San Francisco Giants rebuilding, it will be interesting to see if Posey will even be catching or playing first base for the Giants next season. Adding some intrigue here, if the Giants do want to trade him, they will have to do it sooner rather than later as Posey will soon gain 10-and-5 rights giving him the power over where he will and will not accept a trade.
All that considered the more pressing issue for Posey is the hip. Ultimately, the question will be whether the hip will allow him to return anywhere near the player he once was.
As a point of reference, Devin Mesoraco was an All-Star in 2014. That season, he hit .273/.359/.534 with 25 doubles, 25 homers, and 80 RBI. In that offseason, the then 27-year-old received a four year $28 million guaranteed contract. It was a contract which soon became an onerous burden on the Reds as Mesoraco, like Posey, needed surgery to remove a bone spur and to repair a torn labrum.
Since receiving that extension, Mesoraco has hit .206/.297/.356 with a 77 wRC+. His best year was this one where he hit .222/.306/.409, and he played in 84 games. That was by far the most he has played over the past four years. This is also the danger in acquiring Posey. You could have a player go from an All Star level to someone who is a below league average hitter with an onerous contract.
There are a few key differences between Posey and Mesoraco. First and foremost, Mesoraco had two surgeries spread across 13 months as opposed to the one surgery Posey had. Perhaps more important than that is Posey is the much better player than Mesoraco. The issue for any team potentially interested in Posey would be just how much they trust him to bounce back from this surgery.
Why the Mets Should Obtain Him
There are plenty of free agent options available, but they are flawed. Yasmani Grandal showed us how imperfect he is behind the plate during the postseason. Wilson Ramos has an injury history and is over 30. Kurt Suzuki is a going to be 36. So overall, while there are options, the Mets best route to upgrade at the catcher position just might be the trade route. Historically, Posey is the best catcher available, and given his surgery and contract, you are probably getting him at a discount.
Why the Mets Shouldn’t Obtain Him
Posey is due $66.5 million over the next three years, which is a lot of risk to take on for a soon to be 32-year-old catcher coming off a major surgery. With his age, he was likely going to regress and have to play more first base. The surgery may accelerate that, and as constituted, the Mets already have too many first basemen as is. If the Mets were willing to spend at the levels of the Yankees or Red Sox, Posey could be a worthwhile risk, but if the Mets are going to spend at their current levels, Posey may be too much of a risk.
If the Mets are able to dump a contract like Jay Bruce‘s in a deal for Posey, it may be a worthwhile endeavor. That goes double when you consider a healthy Posey could be a complete game changer for the Mets. If healthy and back to form, Posey could make this Mets team a real World Series contender. Ultimately, unless the Giants eat salary or the Mets are willing to another threshold with their spending, they should look for their backstop elsewhere.