Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner: The cheapest superstars of all-time

By Danny Vietti
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Oct 29, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner (right) celebrates with catcher Buster Posey after defeating the Kansas City Royals during game seven of the 2014 World Series at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

It is April of 2007 and the San Francisco Giants have not made a postseason appearance in over four years. A 17-year old farm boy named Madison Bumgarner is pitching for South Caldwell High School in Hudson, North Carolina. Meanwhile about 500 miles south, 20-year old Buster Posey is making the transition from shortstop to catcher in his junior year at Florida State University.

Fast-forward to 2010–just four years later–the same Bumgarner (now 21 years old) pitches to the same Posey (now 24 years old), becoming the first rookie starting pitcher-catcher tandem in a World Series since Yogi Berra caught Spec Shea in the 1947 World Series.

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  • Now lets move forward to August 18, 2015–five years later. The same Bumgarner (now 26 years old) and the same Posey (now 28 years old) have a combined six All Star Game selections, three Silver Slugger Awards, and are 3-time World Series Champions. Amazing how much can transpire in such a short amount of time.

    Of course, these young stars must be getting paid the big bucks for their incredible success, right? Well, yes they are. However, if you have any idea how much money that professional baseball players make per year, you are about to find out that Posey and Bumgarner are the biggest steals and cheapest superstars of all-time.

    Jul 19, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Chalk dust flies as San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner uses a rosin bag in the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    For starters, according to MLB Network’s annual list of the top-100 players, Buster Posey is ranked as the 5th best hitter on the list (8th overall) and Madison Bumgarner is the 9th ranked pitcher (26th overall). To add, Posey, Bumgarner, and Pablo Sandoval are the only players on the list who own three World Series rings.

    So, Posey and Bumgarner should both at least be in the top-10 list of highest paid players in the league, right? Wrong.

    According to Cot’s Baseball Contracts of Baseball Prospectus list of highest paid players, Posey’s 9 year/$164 million contract is ranked 16th and Bumgarner’s 6 year/$35.56 million contract is not even on the list of the 68 contracts listed. Here are the top-10 guaranteed contracts:

    1. Giancarlo Stanton (Marlins): $325,000,000 (2015-27)
    2. Alex Rodriguez (Yankees): $275,000,000 (2008-17)
    3. Alex Rodriguez (Rangers/Yankees): $252,000,000 (2001-10)
    4. Miguel Cabrera (Tigers): $248,000,000 (2016-23)
    5. Albert Pujols (Angels): $240,000,000 (2012-21)
    Robinson Cano (Seattle Mariners): $240,000,000 (2014-23)
    7. Joey Votto (Reds): $225,000,000 (2014-23)
    8. Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers): $215,000,000 (2014-20)
    9. Prince Fielder (Rangers): $214,000,000 (2012-20)
    10. Max Scherzer (Nationals): $210,000,000 (2015-21)

    As for their individual positions, Posey is not even the highest paid catcher, as Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins is making over $4 million dollars more than him. For Bumgarner, he is not even making half as much per year than the last player on the pitchers list (R.A. Dickey’s 2 year/$12.5 million).

    “Start naming players, and I will tell you if they make more money than the 2015 NL Cy Young Award candidate Bumgarner. Aaron Rowand? Yep. Jayson Werth? Yep. Barry Zito? Yep. CC Sabathia? Yep.”

    Starting with Posey, Although he has the largest total amount of money guaranteed in his contract, even he isn’t making the most money for the Giants during this 2015 season. While Posey is making around $18 million this year, Tim Lincecum is making $20.25 million, Matt Cain is getting $21.25 million, and, former teammate, Pablo Sandoval is guaranteed $19 million from the Boston Red Sox.

    A few players who are making more money than the 2012 NL MVP Posey are Felix Hernandez (Mariners), Joey Votto (Reds), and Giancarlo Stanton (Marlins). All of whom have never made it to a World Series, let alone an LCS.

    It would take days to name all of the players making more money than Bumgarner, but some notable names that will make you say, “Seriously?” include Christian Yelich (Marlins), Nick Swisher (Indians/Braves), and Brian Wilson (Dodgers). In fact, despite being arguably the second-best player on the Giants roster to Posey, many of Bumgarner’s teammates are making much more money than the 2014 World Series MVP, including Jeremy Affeldt, Sergio Romo, Tim Lincecum, Jake Peavy, and Matt Cain. Basically, the ace of the staff who is eating up the most innings and contributing most to the team, Bumgarner, is making less than half of the money than three of the other starters.

    Imagine the conversations between GM Bobby Evans and Bumgarner:

    Evans: Alright, Bum, you are going to pitch 7 great innings and then let Sergio Romo pitch the 8th inning, but he is going to get paid more than you, deal?

    Bumgarner: Well, alright. As long as I can afford my ranch in North Carolina.

    Well, maybe it didn’t go down exactly like that, but this is basically how the pitching staff is handled whenever he pitches. If life was a perfect world, Bumgarner should be making about seven times as much money as Romo because he pitches seven times as many innings when he starts. Something like that. You get what I am trying to say, right?

    Aug 17, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28) chats with Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton (27) at home plate during the first inning at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    Start naming players, and I will tell you if they make more money than the 2015 NL Cy Young Award candidate Bumgarner. Aaron Rowand? Yep. Jayson Werth? Yep. Barry Zito? Yep. CC Sabathia? Yep.

    Wait, hold up. So, you’re saying all of these “has-beens” and overpaid busts are making more money than the only two current players in the league who each have three World Series rings, three All Star game appearances, and have yet to turn 30-years of age? Yes, I am. As Stephen A. Smith of ESPN would say, “That is blasphemous!” Yes, it is.

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    We could do this for days, but the point is that Bumgarner is arguably the most successful and productive pitcher in baseball, and he is making less money than over 40 relief pitchers. Another important component of Bumgarner’s contract is that the Giants have a team option for 2018 and 2019, which means Bumgarner is not going anywhere for a while. When Bumgarner’s contract ends after the 2019 season, Bumgarner will be 30-years old and will demand some big dollar signs, but by then, the Giants will have already gotten the most out of him while in his prime.

    As a result, Madison Bumgarner is the cheapest superstar pitcher of all-time.

    On the other hand, Posey is getting paid a lot of money and is set for a long time, but even he is not getting the amount of money that he deserves. Posey is arguably the most successful and productive hitter in baseball, and he is making less money than four pitchers, who only play in one of every five games, and 15 other players as well. To top it off, San Francisco locked Posey up through the 2021 season, which means by the time his contract is up, he will be 34-years old and passed his prime.

    Ultimately, Buster Posey is the biggest steal of a superstar hitter of all-time.

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