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Hunter Pence

Instant Trade Analysis: Hunter Pence to the San Francisco Giants

San Francisco Giants get: OF Hunter Pence

Philadelphia Phillies get: OF Nate Schierholtz, RP Seth Rosin, C/1B Tommy Joseph

GM Ruben Amaro and the Phillies started the second act of their rebuilding process by trading outfielder Hunter Pence to the offense-starved San Francisco Giants, just minutes after shipping fellow OF Shane Victorino to the Los AngelesDodgers. Amaro has single-handedly fortified the NL West by addressing the needs of the two contenders for the division crown.

In Pence, SF oddly enough gets a bat and glove very similar to former Giants outfielder and financial millstone Aaron Rowand. The now former Phillie has proven to be an annual 25 homer threat, having hit an anomalous 25 every season between 2008 and 2010, with 22 in 2011 and 17 this year. He’s a near lock for a performance of around a .280 batting average, 90 runs, 25 homers of course and 90 RBI. Pence has shown some plus speed, but his stolen base numbers have tapered off as he’s gotten closer to 30. Defensively, he’ll fit in very well alongside Melky Cabrera in left and Angel Pagan in center. The Giants could very well have the most steady defensive outfield unit in the NL West, along with their rivals in Southern California. 

His effect on the Giants lineup should be significant, but not exactly because he’s that much of an offensive difference-maker. Overall, Pence is a very, very good complimentary player, but not the type of offensive force that can transform a lineup around him, like how both Hanley Ramirez is doing now on the Dodgers, or Manny Ramirez did four seasons ago. He’ll hit in the middle of the lineup for the Giants, surrounded by Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey and Melky Cabrera. Like Sandoval and Cabrera, Pence is merely a borderline or fringe All-Star who is there to simply prop up slugging catcher Posey, rather than form a deadly middle of the order threat, like the Dodgers’ Kemp/Ethier/Ramirez trio, or the killer Hamilton/Beltre/Cruz mashing unit in Texas. Hunter will definitely help an 11th ranked NL offense in SF, both in that he’s a well-above average player, and by who he’s replacing.

As seemingly always with the Giants since Barry Bonds left town over five years ago, GM Brian Sabean has allocated most of his resources to pitching, rather than creating a competent offense. Of course, this seemed to work two years ago when the world collapsed upon itself, as Cody Ross won the NLCS MVP and the San Francisco Giants opened up the gateway to the depths of  Hell and won the World Series. Even in spite of their title, the Giants continue to disappoint the baseball watching world at large. SF should be busy establishing themselves as the next dynasty with their pitching, much like the Yankees did in the late nineties behind a dominant staff, a fantastic pen and of course, that juggernaut offensive lineup. The Giants don’t have the same type of checkbook that New York GM Brian Cashman had at his disposal, so Sabean struggles to cobble together another borderline feeble lineup season to season. The best part of this trade might be that Pence is under contract next season as well, albeit for nearly $14 million a year. I’d expect the Giants to try and sign him long-term, to a deal reminiscent of Aaron Rowand’s four-year, $60 million dollar pact. Pence might not be worth that type of money on the open market at large, but in the context of a SF team that always seems to be scrambling for hitters, it could be a shrewd deal in the future, relative to their usual situation.

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