Is it the right time for a Brandon Belt extension?

Thearon W. Henderson

The answer isn't as obvious as it used to be.

There isn't exactly news about Brandon Belt and a possible contract extension, but we do have a quote:

"I think anybody would be open to a long-term extension, especially with this organization," he said. "It's a first-class organization."

That's not saying much. But it's better than something like this:

"If they present a long-term contract to me, I will eat it. Literally eat the paper, bite by bite, staring them down the entire time. I mean, Brett Pill? What in the hell was that about? I can't wait to get out of here."

So we'll take these small victories. A first-class organization! Did you hear that, Maude? He called it first class! Any news regarding a possible Belt extension is good news.

Except, I've been doing some thinking. Wait, wait, hear me out. Brandon Belt is a prince, a gosh darn prince, and I want him on the Giants for a long, long time. This is a familiar pattern. Get used to a player like Matt Cain, Buster Posey, or Hunter Pence, and wait for the extension. When the extension comes, rejoice. Simple.

That Freddie Freeman contract is sticking with me, though. It's possible that in six years, $20 million is the going rate for a league-average first baseman, so getting a quasi-star at those prices will be an undeniably good thing. But right now, it's star money, and the Braves can't afford to pay star money to non-stars. They're gambling. It's a sound, sensible gamble, but it's still an expensive gamble.

Belt and his agent might have been looking at the Allen Craig extension as a possible starting point. No more. They're thinking big. So here are the choices:

a. Lock Belt up for six, seven, or eight years, guaranteeing him substantial money in exchange for a couple of free-agent years, or …

b. Sign Belt to a four-year, non-guaranteed contract below market value, and negotiate with him on a longer deal as he gets closer to free agency.

The former sounds kind of scary, to be honest. What if he really is just Lyle Overbay? The Giants can afford an okay player making star money -- like this guy -- a little easier than the Braves can, but the deal will still contribute to sad, lackluster offseasons with a maxed-out budget.

The latter is what the Giants already have Belt for. That doesn't sound scary. It's flexible, and four years is still a decently long deal. There isn't a lot of risk at all. And if Belt goes full Votto over the next couple of years, there's still time to extend him at star money. It'll cost the Giants more, of course, but they'll still have the option to keep him.

I've made this argument twice before, with two different players. Here's the first one:

If Lincecum and his agent successfully navigate the young pitcher gauntlet all the way to free agency, more power to them. They'll have made it past the final round without any lifelines left, even when the last two questions were about opera and taxonomy. Then the Giants will have to decide if a 30-year-old pitcher is a good enough risk to lock up with a franchise contract. That's so far into the future, it's not even worth contemplating. So, so much can happen.

That was regarding Tim Lincecum. Nailed it. Look at the awesome blogger with his awesome opinions. Gonna do a little end-zone dance, don't mind me ...

Except here's the other one:

So unless Posey will sign a mid-range deal -- think Carlos Gonzalez and his seven year, $80.5 million deal -- which he won't, I don't see the urgency for right now right now right now right now. There's time. Time to gather information, and time to experience seasons where everything doesn't end with a major award and a championship. Because, call me a cynic, but that isn't going to happen every year.

That was regarding Buster Posey. Technically, that deal gets an incomplete, because we don't know what Posey's post-FA years look like yet. But the deal came before the bubble became a super-bubble, and the cost of extending Posey would be much, much higher today. Assuming Posey continues to be the superhero he obviously is for, say, five more years, at least, the Giants did well.

Belt isn't Lincecum, nor is he Posey. He's his own cat. I'd write that he plays a position where it's easy to find talent, except the Giants haven't been so hot at that since Will Clark left. He's important, but there's time. He'll never be as important or expensive as Buster Posey, and it's worth waiting a year to see if he should be as expensive as Freddy Freeman. I was aboard the Beltstension train last month, but we're kind of hanging out at the station, getting It's Its right now. I'm cool with that.

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