SAN FRANCISCO -- In recent years, December has been a time for Buster Posey to turn into a recruiter. Perhaps that meant sitting down with Jon Lester, or traveling to Los Angeles to answer questions in a meeting with Shohei Ohtani, or sending a text to a possible addition to the bullpen.
This time around, there's no need for the Giants to use Posey as part of their contingent.
They are not in on the big fish this offseason, which means Posey himself will be more important than ever. Farhan Zaidi said he "absolutely" still views Posey as a franchise player and middle-of-the-order hitter, and if the Giants are to start a turnaround in Zaidi's first season in charge, they will need Posey, Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt and the rest to pick up the pace.
Zaidi still views Posey as that player in part because, from the other side, he still found the catcher to be terrifying at the plate. At the Winter Meetings last week, Zaidi told a story of a late-season meeting in manager Dave Roberts' office where team officials were asked to guess how many homers Posey had hit in 2018.
"Everybody guessed in the teens," Zaidi said of Posey, who had just five before season-ending surgery. "It was a surprise, and again, obviously he wasn't 100 percent, but I kind of mean it as a compliment because that's the perception that you have. He's such a threat that even in a year when he didn't hit a lot of homers you felt like he was still that kind of guy."
Zaidi said the Dodgers could not tell how compromised Posey's hip was during their many matchups last season, even as Posey's numbers dipped across the board.
In late August, the Giants finally shut Posey down. He had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right hip. During the surgery, Dr. Marc Philippon performed a small microfracture procedure to help ensure Posey had a more complete recovery long-term. The surgery brought an end to five months of Posey being watched closely on the bench.
"It was tough to see Buster like that," manager Bruce Bochy said recently on The Giants Insider Podcast. "He's got a lot of pride and he wanted to do whatever he could to help the club. He knew we needed him. But he just wasn't right with that hip."
Even so, Posey managed to hit .284 with a .359 on-base percentage. Overall, the numbers were not the kinds the Giants are used to, but they made Posey an elite presence behind the plate. The Giants are hoping for much more in 2019. Posey is right on schedule with his rehab and should be ready to catch on Opening Day.
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Zaidi comes from an organization built around power, but he's not getting too caught up in the questions about Posey's diminished slugging numbers. The player he saw last season was still impressive.
"The same offensive profile but just with more power would be great," Zaidi said, "But again, I don't think it's something where you're looking for him to change who he is."