SAN FRANCISCO – Buster Posey and Hunter Pence joined four other Giants in filing for salary arbitration on Tuesday, with those players scheduled to exchange figures with the club on Friday.
It’s the first step toward coming up with salaries for 2013, and in the case of Posey, it’ll be the first movement in a rather complex dance as the Giants seek to negotiate a multiyear extension with the reigning NL MVP.
Pence figures to make the highest salary (an estimated $13-14 million) of any Giant through the process, in which both sides submit a salary number and an arbiter chooses one or the other if the club and player cannot reach an accord on their own. Hearings are scheduled for Feb. 4-20; most cases are settled before they reach that stage.
Posey’s case is the most interesting, though, because few players compare in terms of service time and special accomplishments. One thing is for sure: Posey should get at least a tenfold increase over the $615,000 he made last season.
There’s a good chance Posey and the Giants will agree to terms on a one-year deal to avoid the hearing process, then use the more casual days of spring training to see where talks take them on a multiyear deal. The Giants would love to work out a long-term guarantee that would buy out all four of Posey’s arbitration years, giving the club cost certainty as they attempt to budget for future seasons. It’s less likely that Posey would agree to a contract that would begin to buy out some of his free-agent years, but that won’t stop the Giants from trying.
The bottom line: The Giants control Posey through the 2016 season.
As for Pence, Giants GM Brian Sabean said during the winter meetings that the club would only discuss a one-year deal with the inspirational right fielder, who hit just .219 in 59 games following a trade with the Phillies but still drove in 45 runs as a Giant.
Although Pence has expressed great interest in signing a long-term deal with the Giants, a solid season would set him up to be one of the better free agents on the market this winter.
Pence told me last month that he wasn’t sore at the Giants or Sabean for only wishing to discuss a one-year commitment.
“My agent told me that’s what they want to do, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to play with them,” said Pence, whose pregame speeches fired up the team in the postseason. “My goal in 2013 is to play every game with everything I’ve got and win that day. I’m grateful for that opportunity. So you can bet I’ll black out everything but that game, because you have 100 percent focus on that game.”
Sergio Romo, Jose Mijares, Gregor Blanco and Joaquin Arias also filed for arbitration on Tuesday.