It has been reported that the San Francisco Giants and Brandon Belt’s representatives are talking about an extension. On his podcast, Buster Olney of ESPN said the club is looking to buyout at least three years of Belt’s free agency, making it at least a four-year deal. Belt has two years of control left including 2016 before he can enter free agency at age 30.
The left-handed first baseman is making $6.2 million in 2016 and will likely shoot up to around $10 million next year if he has a similar season. The point of the extension would be to lock him up before he has his elite seasons even though he’s posted a respectable slash of .271/.347/.456 in over 2,000 plate appearances and two four-win seasons per FanGraphs.
In 2010, Adrian Gonzalez was a 28-year-old free agent-to-be with 3,600 plate appearances under his belt and posted a wRC+ of 132 and an 18.4 fWAR while Belt has a career 127 wRC+ and 11.9 fWAR. Gonzalez ended up receiving a seven-year deal worth $154 million from the Red Sox in the April before he would’ve entered free agency, but Belt won’t receive full free agent money from the Giants due to his one-year of arbitration next offseason. Per FanGraphs, Gonzalez was worth $109.6 million before he was extended the April before he became a free agent and Belt has been worth $89.2 million in just over four years of service including inflation. $154 million in 2011 is incredibly different than $105 million in 2016 and Belt was seventh among first basemen in fWAR last season and eighth since 2013. That includes a 2014 when he played just 61 games.
2017: $10 million – age-29 season, final arbitration year
2018: $20 million – age-30 season, first free agent season
2019: $20 million – age-31 season, second free agent season
2020: $20 million – age-32 season, third free agent season
2021: $20 million – age-33 season, fourth free agent season
Incentives play a big role in this theoretical deal. Adding a possibility of $15 million based on MVP finishes, Silver Sluggers, Gold Gloves, and plate appearances could total his contract worth up to $105 million. This deal allows Belt to attain security and gives room for another contract going into his age-34 season. If he continues what he’s doing, he’s worth the $20 million annual salary. But, if he improves, then the Giants would gladly pay the extra incentive money. Team options could be added, but would likely include buyouts that would add on to the overall cost.
The Giants spent more money than usual this past offseason, locking up Jeff Samardzija, Johnny Cueto, Denard Span, Brandon Crawford, and now possibly Belt. Their infield is home grown and we’ll see if they can stay together for more than a couple seasons. They obviously want to buy out some free agent seasons, resulting in Buster Posey staying at catcher for the foreseeable future.
If a deal does get done it will likely come before Opening Day, or they could possibly revisit the discussions this offseason.