There are a lot of objectively and definitively great organizations in baseball. The Royals, Cubs, Pirates, Cardinals and Dodgers are right at the top of the list. The Astros might be up there too. The best of them, though, might be the San Francisco Giants. If you want to know why the Giants have won three titles in the last five seasons, look no further than what they did on Saturday, when they signed first baseman Brandon Belt to a contract extension for the next five seasons. In doing so, they locked in an important member of the club's core without compromising themselves in the long run, just as they did with Brandon Crawford earlier this offseason.
First, let's talk about Brandon Belt. He is great, just not the great that people pay a lot of attention to. He's the kind of hitter people think James Loney was at the start of his career, combining a good batting average with just enough plate discipline, and really good line drive power. He also plays a pretty damn good first base. He has never hit 20 homers in a year. He's never hit .300. He's ever been worth more than four-ish wins in a season. But, when he's healthy, he's an offensive threat who hits the ball hard as consistently as anyone in Major League Baseball. And at (almost) 28, he'll presumably still be at or near his prime for the next five years.
And to get him, the Giants committed to spending "just" $72.8 million. Now, let's put that in some perspective. The deal covers the final year of Belt's arbitration at $8.8 million, and then the first four years he would have been a free agent at $16 million apiece. To be clear, $15.8 million was the qualifying offer this year. It's the same salary that Colby Rasmus and Colby Rasmus are earning in 2016. Justin Upton, who is the same age and worth roughly the same amount in 2015 earned a six-year, $132.75 million deal from the Tigers, making in excess of $22 million per year. Upton's career OPS+ is 121. Belt's? 122. These prices will continue to rise over the next few years, meaning that the Giants have snagged a top 10 first baseman for what will be far less than the market rate.
"But wait!" you say. "Isn't Buster
Olney Posey (note: stupid brain) almost 30? Shouldn't he be moving to first base sometime soon?"
And, indeed, imaginary reader, he may just need to. Catchers have short shelf lives, after all. And while Buster Posey is, by far, the best catcher in baseball today, he's also a good enough hitter that his bat will be able to carry him once he inevitably has to make a transition. The good news is that, as great as Belt's contract is for the Giants, it will also be attractive to teams who might want to acquire him two or three years down the road, especially as those prices continue to rise. The Giants have managed both to provide themselves with long-term stability and flexibility. And they've kept their strong and popular core intact, sending a signal to their fans and to the rest of the league that they plan to be consistently competitive into the future, presumably winning World Championships in even-numbered years through at least 2020.