SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants were sent home for the winter about three weeks earlier than they hoped, but that doesn't mean it's a quiet time of year for their front office. Farhan Zaidi and Scott Harris have a lot of decisions to make with pending free agents and arbitration-eligible position players. There are injured players who have to be added back to the 40-man roster, and others who have to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft.
But when it comes to the longtime face of the franchise, there's no debate.
Early on in his season-ending press conference on Monday at Oracle Park, Zaidi called Buster Posey "in our estimation, the best catcher in baseball this year." A few minutes later he was asked about the $22 million option the Giants hold on Posey.
"I just mentioned that I thought he was the best catcher in baseball, so that may be the answer that you're looking for," Zaidi said. "We obviously want to have conversations with Buster and will continue to have internal conversations about that, but having him on this team next year is a high priority."
When Posey initially signed a long-term extension in 2013, the sides included a team option for 2022 that includes a $3 million buyout. Nine years later, picking it up after the World Series ends is as automatic as a move gets for an executive, but there actually are other options.
The Giants could tear up that deal and instead agree to terms on a multi-year contract with Posey, just as they did with Brandon Crawford earlier in the season. There have been no indications of real talks being had, but team officials did approach veterans other than Crawford during the season, so it's fair to assume both sides have an idea of what an extension would look like.
At the same time, it's important to remember there are two sides here. Posey was in no hurry after Game 5 to talk about his future.
"I'm definitely just going to take some time with my wife, talk to her, and be able to be a full-time dad of four kids for the first time in a while," he said. "Yeah, just kind of take it slowly and see how things progress."
Posey turns 35 next spring, has four young children, and knows that a catcher is always a foul tip away from a concussion that can have long-lasting effects. It would not be a surprise to see him at some point walk away while he's still capable of being an above-average big leaguer, but he seemed rejuvenated by the 2021 season, and he certainly is still at the top of his game.
Posey's 140 OPS+ was the third-highest of his career and he had 18 homers, his most since 2015. He is as effective as ever in leading a staff, and in the postseason he went 6-for-20 with a towering homer and two doubles while catching every single inning.
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Manager Gabe Kapler was extremely careful with Posey's playing time, and that had him fresh for the biggest games of the year. Posey said after Game 5 that his body felt pretty good overall, even though it had been a long series. The Giants can do that again next year, and possibly even go further. If they finally install Joey Bart as Posey's backup, it's likely he'll see much more time than Curt Casali did.
Those are decisions to be made over the winter. For now, there's an easy one. Bring Posey back either at the one-year, $22 million figure or another one. Let him build on a 107-win season he said "was something to really be proud of."
"Obviously we would have liked to win this game and definitely go on," Posey said after Game 5. "But it was a great year, all in all."