Two weeks ago, I was talking with Alex Pavlovic about the possibility of a Brandon Belt extension. I didn't think it would happen. He didn't think it would happen. We agreed the timing was right for the Giants, but it wasn't necessarily right for Belt, which gave the Giants more leverage. He then walked away to do some "reporting" on the possibility of a Belt extension. I went back and had more free nachos. No regrets.
The Giants and Belt did reach an extension, and it looks like the Giants used that leverage. He'll get five years after the 2016 season, and if you include the 2016 season, it's a six year, $79 million contract, with the salaries breaking down like this:
- 2016, $6.2 million
- 2017, $8.8 million
- 2018, $16 million
- 2019, $16 million
- 2020, $16 million
- 2021, $16 million
Belt had one more season of arbitration left, in which he would have been paid something close to that 2017 salary.. That means this extension is something like a four-year deal, $64million contract.
Try finding an above-average 29-year-old first baseman on the free agent market for four years and $64 million.
It's a sweet deal in today's money, and inflation might make it look even better. That's before you consider that we've grown attached to this goofball, just as we've grown attached to the idea of one day rolling our eyes when a crusty Dodgers fan mumbles something about Garvey/Lopes/Russell/Cey. We can't do it yet. But this extension gives us a fighting chance.
This isn't to suggest that Belt's new deal is without risk. His contract next year wasn't guaranteed; now it is. The contract takes him through his age-33 season; we've all seen hitters disintegrate long before that. There's a not-insignificant chance that in 2021, the Giants will be paying Belt, Brandon Crawford, and Buster Posey a combined $60 million, while not being wild about starting any of them.
When the subject of Belt's extension came up in March, though, this was the biggest reason I didn't think something would get done:
Rule #1: It would make you uncomfortable
... if there's an extension, it will make you do a double-take. There might be nine figures. And it will go until Belt is old enough to decline, possibly deep into those years. There's no reason for him not to expect that kind of deal, and there are at least a couple reasons why the Giants would entertain the idea.
The argument that Belt deserved a Freddie Freeman-type contract was missing a few key pieces of evidence. Mainly, sustained health and $100-million production, both of which could come for Belt this year. Absent the evidence this season would provide, either Belt would have to settle for the contract he could get without that evidence, or the Giants would have to close their eyes and pretend the evidence exists.
Belt decided he wanted to stay more than he wanted to gamble for the extra $30 million or so, because that gamble might have ended with the Giants backing away. That's great news for us. Great news for the Giants. And, you know, great news for Belt who will have approximately $79 million more dollars than most of us will ever have.
I'm still a little stunned that the contract is just for four years after his scheduled free agency, considering his age. Apparently, he just wanted a teensy bit more in total salary to needle the other Brandon. I can get behind that.
Congratulations to Belt for using his talents and skills to be a millionaire several times over. Congratulations to the Giants for keeping their homegrown infield together for at least the next six years. And congratulations to us for getting to watch our favorite players for a long, long time.
Condolences to the other faction in the Belt Wars. Keep distributing this handbills and holding secret meetings. By the end of this contract, your numbers might swell. For the bulk of it, though, I would expect your numbers to dwindle, and the Giants to keep winning with Belt's help.