Buster Posey's retirement signals a changing of the guard at the catcher position.
The longtime Giants catcher officially announced Thursday afternoon that he will be retiring from MLB, which leaves San Francisco in an interesting spot at a position that has since been occupied by a generational talent for more than a decade.
Who will replace Posey? The obvious answer is the 24-year-old catcher and Giants' No. 2 prospect Joey Bart.
When Posey opted out of the 2020 MLB season due to COVID-19 concerns, Bart saw plenty of time behind the plate. The promising, young prospect struggled in 33 games at the major league level that season, hitting just .233/.288/.320 with zero home runs and seven RBIs in 111 plate appearances.
Bart struggled defensively as well, which impacted his working relationship with veteran pitchers such as Johnny Cueto.
Giants play-by-play announcer Duane Kuiper joined NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic and Cole Kuiper on "Giants Talk" where he discussed Posey's retirement and what it meant for the catcher position, and how his absence could impact the Giants' ability to sign free agent pitchers.
"We know how successful [Kevin] Gausman was, Alex Wood was, we know successful [Anthony] DeSclafani was," Kuiper said. "But Buster Posey was their catcher. Now, these guys have to make a decision on free agency without Buster Posey as their catcher. Is that going to be an issue going forward with the Giants signing free agents?
"They do not have the luxury of this guy, a generational catcher behind the plate to guide them through a full season. If you're Kevin Gausman -- let's just use him in this example -- I'm going to have multiple offers to go different places, is Joey Bart the guy I want to throw to in 23 of my 34 starts? That's a decision that he has to make. Gausman is going to have to find out from Farhan [Zaidi] and Scott Harris and Gabe [Kapler] as to what their thoughts are about who's going to be their next catcher."
Among the notable Giants free agents in 2022 are pitchers such as Gausman, Anthony DeSclafani, and Alex Wood, three pitchers who played a massive role in San Francisco's franchise-best 107-win 2021 season.
The Giants will have plenty of financial flexibility this offseason, and will likely be one of the major players in the free agent market this winter. Whether it be an attempt to re-sign in-house free agents like Gausman or pursue other free agent starters such as Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, Marcus Stroman, etc. the Giants need to have a plan at the catcher position.
"Their offense is good enough to where they can win a lot of games with Curt Casali hitting eighth," Kuiper said. "But at some point, you have to make a strong consideration as to who your next catcher is going to be for the next seven to 10 years and that obviously is going to be Joey Bart."
President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi mentioned shortly after Posey's press conference Thursday that Bart has earned the opportunity to start, and will be given the first chance. How free agent starting pitchers view Bart as a potential battery mate remains to be seen.