Counting down Southwest Georgia's Top 10 sports stories of 2013 -- No. 4: Posey signs nine-year deal with Giants

Leesburg native and San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey hit the jackpot in 2013 by signing a contract extension in March worth $167 million over the next nine years. (Reuters)

Leesburg native and San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey hit the jackpot in 2013 by signing a contract extension in March worth $167 million over the next nine years. (Reuters)

In 2012, Buster Posey won the NL MVP award and directed the San Francisco Giants to a second World Series in three years.

In 2013, the star catcher and Leesburg native got rewarded for his rapid rise to fame.

Posey signed a landmark contract extension in March worth $167 million over nine years just days before the beginning of the 2013 season.

“I’m extremely excited and humbled to be a Giant for the next nine years,” Posey said in a text message to the Herald after the deal was announced. “Winning aside, I think the Giants organization has established a unique culture that I’m honored to be a part of.”

The deal, which includes a no-trade clause, is the largest guaranteed contract in history for a player with three or fewer years in the major leagues and the longest in Giants history. The guaranteed money also is a record for a player with fewer than four years of service, topping Todd Helton’s $151 million deal with the Rockies.

“The success of our franchise depends on developing and retaining homegrown talent like Buster Posey,” Giants President Larry Baer told MLB.com back in March.

The 26-year-old Posey, who also plays first base, signed a one-year, $8 million contract before the season. With the extension, he got a $7 million signing bonus, $10.5 million in 2014, $16.5 million in 2015, $20 million in 2016 and $21.4 million each year from 2017 to 2021. The final year of the contract includes a $22 million salary or a $3 million buyout.

The deal came after Posey’s remarkable 2012 season when he hit .336 with 24 homers and 103 RBIs to win the NL batting title and take home the first MVP award for an NL catcher in four decades.

But even with all of the success the former Lee County and Florida State star has had, he’s found time to give back to his hometown. For the third year in a row, Posey returned to Leesburg in late November to help raise funds for the Lee County Transitional Learning Center.

“(Lee County) is a special place to me,” Posey told The Herald last month. “It’s neat to see the way people react here, compared to San Francisco. People are excited here, but at the same time they are like, ‘You have been here. We knew you before you played baseball.’ ”

Posey’s 2013 season was sub-par by his standards — .294 batting average, 15 home runs and 72 RBIs — and the Giants didn’t make the postseason for the first time with Posey on the active roster since he made his major league debut in 2010.

Posey called the Giants’ third-place finish in the NL West frustrating during an interview with The Herald in the closing weeks of the season.

“It’s not the season any of us imagined,” He said. “But I will say this: Something I’ve been pretty happy with is I feel like 99.9 percent of the time this team is giving full effort. I don’t feel like we’ve had anyone who has quit. Who wants to play on a team like that? When things aren’t going right, you still have to go try to win ball games. Ultimately, that’s the goal no matter what the situation in.”

Posey has become the perfect leader for one of MLB’s most decorated franchises, which is why his unprecedented nine-year deal with San Francisco is The Herald’s No. 4 sports story of 2013.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Herald’s sports staff has chosen, in our eyes, Southwest Georgia’s Top 10 sports stories from 2013. Today marks the seventh of the 10 we’ve picked as having a significant impact as we count down to No. 1, which will appear in the Jan. 1 addition. Look for No. 3 in Monday’s Herald.