He's one of the best catchers in baseball, but could Buster Posey eventually move 90 feet down the third base line to man the hot corner for the San Francisco Giants? Manager Bruce Bochy told Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area on Wednesday that he could see the 2012 National League MVP making a change at some point in the future.
From CSN Bay Area:
“I think he’d be a really good third baseman,” Bochy said. “We like him where he’s at now. And this is something (that would happen) if he took the time to learn it in the offseason and spring training. But he’s an athlete and he has the hands and the arm.”
It's not hard to see why the Giants might consider such a move. Posey is still only 26 years old, but San Francisco wants to get as many years out of his bat as possible. Relieving Posey from his catcher duties would cut down on the wear and tear of his body, as well as remove him from plays like the home plate collision with Scott Cousins in 2011 that resulted in a broken leg. What's more, a move to third would still give the Giants more positional value than a more conventional transition to first base for Posey.
Looking at Posey's frame and athleticism, it's not hard to imagine him ranging to his left for a ground ball. But such a move wouldn't happen this season and it probably wouldn't happen in 2014, either. Pablo Sandoval has third base locked down for San Francisco, but he could command big dollars in free agency after next season and moving Posey would excuse the Giants from having to write that check.
As Baggarly also points out, Sandoval could move to first and San Francisco would then have a trading chip in Brandon Belt. (Of course, a move toward the adoption of the DH in the National League could keep everyone in their roles, but it's hard to see MLB standardizing play between the two leagues in the next two seasons.)
Not many catchers have made the switch to third base in their careers. Johnny Bench is the most famous example as he dabbled a bit at third base throughout his career and even played 107 games there for 1982 Cincinnati Reds. The big difference between Bench's situation and Posey's possible move, of course, is that the Hall of Famer was well into his 30s when he logged all those games, not in his mid-20s like the Giants catcher.
Other famous names who played at least 100 games at both catcher and third (full list here) include Jimmie Foxx, Todd Zeile, Joe Torre, Phil Nevin, B.J. Surhoff and Brandon Inge.