Giants want to exercise Posey's option after stellar MLB season

By Sports Desk October 18, 2021

The San Francisco Giants want to exercise Buster Posey's $22million club option, with the National League (NL) West champions stressing the star will be a 2022 centrepiece if he wants to be.

Posey starred for the Giants this MLB season, helping the team to a franchise-record 107 wins and their first NL West crown since 2012 before falling to rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL Division Series (NLDS).

The three-time World Series champion, who opted out of the coronavirus-shortened 2020 campaign, was among a number of Giants players to enjoy a rejuvenation this term.

Posey boasted his best SLG (.499) and OPS (.889) since the Giants were crowned world champions in 2012, while the 34-year-old's 18 home runs were his most since his 19-homer campaign six years ago.

As the dust settles on San Francisco's season, the Giants remain committed to the 2012 NL MVP and seven-time All-Star as long as he wants to continue playing.

"He is in our estimation the best catcher in baseball this year," Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi told reporters on Monday.

"Obviously want to have conversations with Buster and continue to have internal conversations about that, but having him on this team next year is a high priority."

Zaidi added: "You can talk about his value both in how he played down the stretch and how much we missed him when he went down. Really, really important part of this team.

"The qualifying offer decision we'll have to think more about and I'm sure we'll have some conversations with his representation as we did during the year. He's happy here, I think he feels really appreciated. And we appreciate him.

"He's been one of the best hitters in baseball over the last couple of years. He's a big part of this team and we'll certainly hope that those are productive dialogues."


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    The NBA season is heating up nicely.

    The Phoenix Suns are on fire, the Golden State Warriors are hanging on their coattails, while defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks are fighting back after a slow start to their season.

    Meanwhile, the Detroit Pistons and Oklahoma City Thunder cannot buy a win.

    Those are the teams, but which players have been impressing, and which are struggling to make an impact? Stats Perform delves into the numbers with the latest edition of NBA Heat Check.


    Luguentz Dort

    It is a team game, which Luguentz Dort knows only too well as his increasingly impressive individual numbers are doing little to turn around the fortunes of the Thunder.

    The shooting guard failed to score more than 17 points in any of October's games, but came back from missing the defeat to the LA Clippers on the first day of November determined to do something about his team's form.

    Dort set about trying to help the Thunder recover from a slow start and managed seven games of over 20 points, including 34 in the win against the Houston Rockets. Unfortunately for him and his teammates, there have been no wins in seven since then, despite the Canadian's best efforts.

    His increased total points per game of 11.7 in October to 19.2 in November is the most in the league, while he was fourth for increase in three-pointers made per game (1.2 to 2.8).

    Without that leap in form from the 22-year-old, you wonder how much worse Oklahoma City's record would be right now.

    Jarrett Allen

    The Cleveland Cavaliers have been a streaky team so far this season, but in Allen they have someone who is showing himself to be a real difference maker.

    Allen's numbers have increased almost identically to Dort's, with an average of points scored per game going up from 11.7 to 19.0 from October to November.

    The 23-year-old also tops the charts for largest increase in total rebounds per game, going from 9.0 in October to 12.8 in November.

    The Cavs won six of their first seven games in November, only to then lose their next five, the first three of which against the Celtics, the Nets and the Warriors they were without Allen through illness.

    His return has eventually seen form turn back around, with wins against the Magic and the Mavericks followed up by another at the Heat to kick off December.

    Jordan Poole

    Three-pointers are an increasingly important part of the modern game, and there is little more satisfying than seeing the ball sunk all the way from downtown.

    Golden State Warriors fans may be the only ones getting a little bored of them given how many they see these days, with Steph Curry still the king of three-points, but Poole has been more than holding his own with his 51 total this season seeing him only behind Curry (77), Buddy Hield (61) and Lonzo Ball (52) in the standings.

    It is Poole's improvement that gets him onto this list, though, having averaged just 1.5 successful three-point attempts per game in October, he upped that to 3.4 in November, the joint-highest league increase with Luka Doncic.

    He was also fifth most improved for points scored, going from 14.0 per game in October to 20.3 in November.

    This has helped the Warriors to a strong 18-3 record so far, but he even managed to stand out in the recent defeat to the Phoenix Suns, sinking six three-point attempts in a total contribution of 28 points on the night.


    Kemba Walker

    It was all set up to be a feel-good story before the season began as Walker, born in the Bronx, returned to New York to play for the Knicks after years of success with the Charlotte Hornets and Boston Celtics.

    The four-time All-Star got off to a promising start, with eight defensive rebounds against his former Celtics in a debut win, and scoring double figures in all six of his October games.

    However, November was not so kind to the 31-year-old, with his average of 3.7 three-pointers per game going down to just 1.3, the largest decrease in the league, and only managing double figures in four of his 12 outings.

    Walker has never averaged less than his current 11.7 points per game across a season, with a career average of 19.7.

    Such has been the drop in form for Walker, Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau took the difficult decision to remove him from rotation ahead of the game at the Nets at the end of the month. 

    Spencer Dinwiddie

    The Washington Wizards point guard started the season with some impressive outings after his arrival from the Brooklyn Nets, including contributing 34 points in his second game against the Indiana Pacers, and scoring 20 or more in three of his five games in October. 

    During November, Dinwiddie managed to score 20 or more just twice in 13 games, including failing to add anything to the scoreboard in defeat at the Charlotte Hornets.

    His has been the largest decrease in points scored per game across the two months, going from an average of 19.8 in October to 12.8 in November.

    The Wizards have not been too inconvenienced by this downturn in form from Dinwiddie, sitting second in the Eastern Conference on 14-8, but coach Wes Unseld Jr would surely love to see the 28-year-old return to his early season showings before too long.

    Bam Adebayo

    The Miami Heat center is averaging a career-best 18.7 points, along with 10.2 rebounds per game.

    However, that number of rebounds has decreased from an average of 14.0 per game in October to 8.7 in November. Still respectable but the second-highest decrease of the month in the league behind only Gorgui Dieng (7.2 to 1.8). 

    After registering double figures for rebounds in four of his five October performances, Adebayo only managed to do so in five of his 13 games in November, and unfortunately for him is set to miss the entirety of December after picking up a thumb injury.

    The Heat won six of their first seven games, and Adebayo's electric form was a large part of that strong start, but having taken just two victories from their last six outings, will be hoping that when the Olympic gold medallist returns in the New Year, he can rediscover those elite levels.

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    Discussions between Ousmane Dembele and Barcelona over a new deal for the forward are going slower than hoped, according to the club's president Joan Laporta.

    Dembele, a €105million signing from Borussia Dortmund in 2017, is out of contract at the end of the season and has been linked with a move away from Camp Nou in January.

    Recent reports from Spain suggest the France international's agent, Moussa Sissoko, is prepared to listen to offers as he is not happy with Barca's latest contract proposal.

    The 24-year-old can discuss a free transfer with overseas clubs from next month if fresh terms cannot be finalised with Barca, but Laporta is hopeful of an agreement being found.

    "It has been a slower process than desired on our part," he told TV3. "We are working on it, we continue with our swords raised."

    Dembele's time at Barcelona has been blighted by fitness problems, but he remains a key player for the Catalan giants when available.

    He has managed 30 goals and 20 assists in 121 appearances since his debut in September 2017, meaning he has been directly involved in 0.65 goals per 90 minutes.

    That puts him on a par with Liverpool's Roberto Firmino among players from Europe's top five leagues, and just behind Inter's Lautaro Martinez (0.67).

    However, to put Dembele's injury issues into some context, the 121 games he has played for Barca is 91 fewer than team-mate Sergio Busquets over the same period.

    Laporta is excited about what Dembele still has to give to Barca, though, should a new contract be agreed.

    Dembele's future is one of a number of issues Barca have to resolve ahead of the January transfer window, which is expected to be a quiet one at Camp Nou.

    The club's well-documented financial problems mean signing any new players next month is not possible unless others are moved on.

    "We can't ignore that there is a salary margin. We first have to expand that salary margin and the only way to expand it is for some players to come out of the squad," Laporta said.

    "Xavi knows the players he has and is in permanent communication with the football director, Mateu Alemany, our general director and the people we trust.

    "If it is possible to strengthen the team, we will see what possibilities we have.

    "Xavi has a lot of players and we are sure that he will be able to get much more out of the squad than has been obtained so far. 

    "We are confident that Xavi will apply a criterion that will make this squad much more efficient than it is."

    Barca are unbeaten in three games under new head coach Xavi and return to LaLiga action on Saturday with a home match against Real Betis.

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    Thomas Partey is capable of delivering show-stopping performances for Arsenal on a regular basis, according to Mikel Arteta.

    Partey delivered a dazzling display at Manchester United last season that had Roy Keane wishing the midfielder belonged to the Red Devils.

    On Thursday, Arsenal were heading back to Old Trafford for another Premier League appointment, with former Atletico Madrid man Partey hoping to play a key role again.

    Partey was highly impressive in Arsenal's 1-0 win in November 2020, achieving team-highs in touches (85) and ball recoveries (11), while only Gabriel Magalhaes attempted more tackles.

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    "I thought he was outstanding. The more I look at him, the more I wish he was in United's midfield," Keane said.

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    Arsenal manager Arteta, speaking ahead of the return to Old Trafford, pointed to a series of minor injuries as being factors in Partey's progress being delayed as he recalled last year's showing against United.

    "First of all, he hasn't had the consistency in terms of minutes and game play because the injuries have broken that in many, many occasions," said Arteta.

    "Then it's the adaptation to the league, and you can see many, many examples of players who have come here and have needed some time.

    "But he had a very early impact in that game, and what we are looking forward to is to have top performances consistently, and to do that he needs to be fit."

    Partey was a £45million acquisition from Atletico, with the 28-year-old having been a regular for several seasons in Diego Simeone's team.

    Arteta suggested Partey's relaxed personality might be a misleading factor when it comes to assessing his appetite for success.

    "He is laid back in the impression that he gives, but he is very demanding of himself. He has the right experience, and he's won quite a lot already in his career," Arteta said.

    "That's what I want from him and I think his peak at this club is still not where it is right now."

    Partey has started Arsenal's last two Premier League games and clearly has a supporter in Arteta.

    However, he has not managed as many touches of the ball in any of his outings with the Gunners this season as he had in his Keane-approved Old Trafford display, peaking with 81 against Newcastle United last time out.

    Nor has he managed double figures in ball recoveries in any match, having done so in six games across all competitions last term.

    There is some evidence that Arsenal are a stronger team for his presence though.

    When Partey has played no part this season, Arsenal have lost three of four Premier League games. Those three losses were at the very start of the season, with Partey injured at the time.

    However, when he has played an active role in league encounters, they have won six of nine, losing just once.

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