Buser Posey opted out of playing in 2020 on Friday morning. What do the SF Giants do at catcher?
Posey said he and his wife have twin adopted girls in neonatal care after being born prematurely, so opting out of playing during a pandemic makes good sense.
The Giants do not boast the most experienced bunch behind the dish, but they will now need to start contemplating all options.
The long-time Giants catcher had been unusually vocal as his team prepares to get ready for a season despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic:
Buster Posey said before camp he talked to his wife quite a bit about possibility of opting out of season. “I think there’s still some reservation on my end as well. I think I want to see kind of how things progress here over next couple of weeks.”
— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) July 4, 2020
That was only a couple of days ago. Posey missed multiple workouts and Giants manager Gabe Kapler provided little substance to his catcher’s absence:
Gabe Kapler on Buster Posey: “He’s dealing with a personal decision and personal issue right now. “
Posey is not the first player to opt-out. To date, 10 players have decided to forgo the 2020 season due to the risk that the pandemic currently presents.
Posey became the 11th player. The Giants will have a big void to fill.
First off, Posey has earned the right to make this very personal decision, and I admittedly recognize that the idea of playing sports during this global pandemic still seems completely bonkers.
That said, the Giants do not have much depth behind Posey. San Francisco does not currently have another catcher on the 40-man roster.
Aramis Garcia has been sidelined after sustaining a labrum injury that required surgery that led to him being placed on the 60-day injured list. Though, he could return by August.
Can the Giants turn to Joey Bart after Buster Posey opts out?
Brantly and Heineman were brought in to compete for a backup catcher role. Tromp was meant to provide depth at the upper levels, and Bailey was drafted just over a month ago.
These five catchers have 399 combined at-bats at the major league level. And 388 of those at-bats belong to Brantly, who saw substantial playing time earlier in his career with the Miami Marlins.
Of course, Bart has been touted as the heir apparent to Buster Posey since the Giants selected him with the second overall pick in 2018.
The fanbase wants to see him play. He is one of the most exciting prospects in baseball.
I will be the wet blanket that points out that he only has 566 career minor league plate appearances. None of these plate appearances have been above Double-A.
Does this mean Bart is not ready to handle a major league pitching staff? Of course not. He might be ready, but I am generally against the idea of forcing a highly touted prospect into a starter’s role simply out of need.
Despite what I want, this may be the path the Giants pursue. They are thin on internal options, and the free-agent market lacks any type of impact talent at this stage in the offseason.
Russell Martin could be an answer to Giants’ problem after Buster Posey opts out
The one remaining free-agent catcher is Russell Martin. He expressed his desire to continue his playing career just a few months ago. The 37-year-old is not the offensive force he once was as he posted a .220/.337/.330 (79 OPS+) line across 249 plate appearances in 2019.
If the Giants want Bart to be the starter, then they should pair him with an experienced veteran who can also serve as a mentor. Martin checks those boxes.
Adjusting to major league baseball is not a linear process. Bart could get stuck in a cold spell, and having a player like Martin to guide him could be well worth the investment.
That said, the Giants now have a decision on their hands. There are few internal options or free agents available. Of course, the free agent landscape may look a little different when teams finalize their rosters thereby causing a domino effect of players being released or opting out.
As Posey’s absence continues to loom, the Giants may need to contemplate life without Posey
Updated 9:20 a.m. PT