SAN FRANCISCO A year ago, Buster Posey was working his way back from a severe ankle injury, returning to getting in and out of his catcher's squat and running the bases, in what he described Friday as "a very day-to-day situation for a while."
His future now looks a lot more secure.
The Giants announced Friday they agreed to terms on an eight-year contract extension with Posey to keep the reigning National League MVP in San Francisco through 2021.
The deal, worth $167 million, incorporates the $8 million Posey was already set to earn in 2013 and encompasses nine years in total. It buys out Posey's remaining three arbitration years and first five years of free agency and includes a club option for 2022.
With it, the Giants locked up their franchise cornerstone at least through his age 34 season. The deal is the largest in team history. Team president and CEO Larry Baer called it "by any measure the largest and boldest commitment we've ever made to a player."
"There's certain elements that give us a lot of comfort making this kind of commitment his professionalism, work ethic, maturity, his character, the way he plays the game," Baer said. "He plays the game with humility and is somebody you really want to put a franchise around."
The contract is also the longest ever given to a catcher, surpassing the eight-year, $184 million contract of the Twins' Joe Mauer, which is still the largest for a catcher in average value per year.
If Posey has his way, he'll be a catcher for the duration.
"If it's something that we felt would help the team, then obviously I would be up for it," Posey said of a possible future position change. "But my passion is definitely to be behind the plate for as long as I can."
At 26, Posey already owns two World Series rings, an MVP and Rookie of the Year award. Since he arrived in San Francisco in 2010, the Giants have won titles in both seasons he has finished healthy. Last year he returned from the 2011 ankle injury to hit .336, winning the N.L. batting title, with 24 home runs and 103 RBIs.
Posey's value to the Giants extends to his handling of the pitching staff and role as a middle-of-the-order hitter and clubhouse leader. General manager Brian Sabean said that when the Giants sat down to begin negotiating with Posey's agent, Jeff Berry of CAA Sports, the sides "had a hill to climb to try to get on the same page."
"The irony here is there's a general good feeling that everybody won, everybody accomplished what they needed to accomplish," Sabean said.
The announcement came a day after the Giants extended the contracts of Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy through the 2016 season. It also came almost a year after the Giants announced a six-year, $127.5 million deal for right-hander Matt Cain that will keep Cain under contract through at least 2017. Left-hander Madison Bumgarner is also signed through 2017, and the Giants hold options on both pitchers for 2018.
"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."
Panda watch Pablo Sandoval started at designated hitter for the Giants in his first game since March 16. He went 0 for 2 in a 3-1 win over the A's and said before the game he had no doubts he'll be available for Opening Day.
Sandoval lined out softly to third base and grounded out. He batted left-handed both times the side more affected by his sore right elbow.
Taking shape The Giants recalled infielder Nick Noonan to the 25-man roster and optioned outfielder Francisco Peguero and reliever Jean Machi to Triple-A Fresno.
Noonan will start the season as the Giants' fifth infielder.
Bochy said Peguero's departure doesn't necessarily mean Cole Gillespie will remain as a fifth outfielder. The Giants could decide to carry three catchers.
The Giants also placed Brett Pill, Tony Abreu and Eric Surkamp on the disabled list retroactive to March 22.