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Buster Posey Expected to Call It a Career

Buster Posey

Buster Posey

D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

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The baseball world was caught off guard on Wednesday when it was reported that Buster Posey, the modern-day heart and soul of the San Francisco Giants, would be announcing his retirement on Thursday. The 34-year-old leaves the game as one of the most beloved players to ever play baseball in the Bay Area.

Posey had a resurgent season for the 107-win Giants, batting .304 with 18 home runs while setting a new franchise record in wins and leading them to a National League West division title. The retirement comes as a surprise not only due to his performance but that San Francisco had made it clear they intended to exercise the veteran catcher’s $22 million team option for the 2022 season. Instead, the recently named Comeback Player of the Year will ride off into the sunset on top of his game.

To some, this retirement may not be as big of a shock as it was to many. Posey had opted out of the 2020 COVID-shortened season in order to protect his wife and four children. Not many athletes make the decision to walk away from the game when they still have so much to offer, but anyone who knows the Giants’ captain knows he is not like many athletes. The seven-time all-star will now get to spend more quality time with his family and await possible enshrinement in Cooperstown one day.

A three-time World Series champion, one-time batting champion, 2010 National League Rookie of the Year, and 2012 National League MVP make up quite the resume even if his career lacks the longevity some baseball writers have come to expect. If elected, Posey would be the first hitter in the modern era to be enshrined with fewer than 2,000 hits, of which he has only 1,500. The Giants legend finishes a 12-year career batting .302/.373/.460 with 158 home runs and 729 RBI.

The decision to retire does leave somewhat of a large hole in the Giants’ offense. Former number two overall pick Joey Bart may be considered the odds-on favorite to take over behind the plate, but he has yet to prove he can handle competition at the major league level. It is more than likely San Francisco will look to pair the young catcher with a veteran with some experience this season to help ease things along. Curt Casali, who served as Posey’s backup for the 2021 season, is still under contract and may be the solution.

Congratulations on a fantastic career Buster. It was a privilege to witness.

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The Hot Stove is Cooking in Detroit

The offseason got off to a quick start on Wednesday when the Tigers acquired veteran catcher Tucker Barnhart from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for infield prospect Nick Quintana less than 24 hours after the final pitch of the World Series. Detroit made a quick and telling transaction that suggests the team is ready and willing to compete this season and plans to make improvements. You love to see it.

General manager Al Avila made it known that catcher was one the Tigers chief needs heading into the offseason, and by acquiring a two-time Gold Glove award winner on Wednesday, that goal has been accomplished. Detroit has not rostered a catcher with a positive defensive runs saved value since Pudge Rodriguez in 2008. Barnhart may not be a defensive wizard behind the plate, but he has a reputation for being an elite pitch-blocker and has made attempts to improve his caught-stealing percentage by visiting Driveline.

Barnhart is not going to light the world on fire with the bat, hitting just .247 with a .317 on-base percentage last season. The important thing is that the 30-year-old can handle himself and carries a solid 9.6 percent walk rate for his career.

The more important impact, from a fantasy baseball standpoint, will be to current Detroit catcher Eric Haase and Reds’ 25-year-old Tyler Stephenson. Haase is coming off a late-career breakout, blasting 22 home runs in his age 28 season while collecting 61 RBI over 351 plate appearances. It should be noted that Haase did make 20 starts in left field for the Tigers, but made the vast majority behind the plate (61 games). It is more than likely that Barnhart will eat into some playing time while the Tigers look to use the designated hitter role for a more potent bat. This is something to keep an eye on for two-catcher formats.

Barnhart leaves a platoon behind in Cincinnati, where Tyler Stephenson is poised to take over as the full-time catcher for the Reds. This is great news for fantasy managers interested in the former first-round pick. Stephenson slashed .286/.366/.431 over 350 at-bats last season with 10 home runs, 21 doubles, and 45 RBI. A full complement of at-bats and the possible addition of a National League designated hitter should vault the Reds catcher easily into the top-10 at the position in fantasy, and most likely pushing even higher.

Quick Hits: Diamondbacks outfielder Josh Rojas underwent a cleanup of the AC joint of his left shoulder and will need six weeks to recover … Diamondbacks picked up the option on right-hander Merrill Kelly while declining the option of veteran outfielder Kole Calhoun … Royals plan to give Adalberto Mondesi a different training regimen this offseason in order to keep the speedster healthy in 2022 … The Phillies declined the options on Andrew McCutchen and Odubel Herrera, making them free agents… Trevor Bauer exercised his $32 player option for the 2022 season … Jackie Bradley Jr exercised his $9.5 million player option to remain with the Brewers in 2022 … Jurickson Profar will stay with the Padres in 2022 after exercising his $6.5 million player option … Yusei Kikuchi declined his one-year $13 million player option with the Mariners and will become a free agent … Kevin Kiermaier underwent arthroscopic surgery on Wednesday to repair a small meniscus tear in his right knee and will be out of action for 4-6 weeks.