Skip to content

Giants overcommit to Hunter Pence

Sep 28, 2013, 2:26 PM EDT

Hunter Pence AP

Now that he’s out from under the Barry Zito (seven years, $126 million) and Aaron Rowand (five years, $60 million) contracts, Giants GM Brian Sabean has the financial muscle to swing for the fences again. And the result: a five-year, $90 million contract for Hunter Pence.

For Pence, is a windfall that certainly exceeds any expectations he could have had coming into his final season before free agency. Fortunately, he’s turned in his best year at age 30, hitting .282/.339/.481 with 26 homers and 94 RBI. Always durable, he’s started every game for the Giants this season, and he’s played a fine right field and even stolen a career-high 22 bases to go along with his fine offensive numbers.

But this is probably the high point for Pence, and he’s still a borderline All-Star. Pence has never finished in the top 10 of his league in on-base percentage, slugging or OPS. His only top 10 in average came in 2011. His 26 homers this year are a career high. He’s reached 100 RBI once, accomplishing that last year. He’s never scored 100 runs.

Among active outfielders with 1,000 career plate appearances, Pence ranks 28th with an .814 OPS. Fellow free agents-to-be Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran, Curtis Granderson, Nelson Cruz and Corey Hart all have higher marks.

On the plus side, Pence certainly doesn’t figure to turn into a liability as a regular anytime soon. Durability is an underrated factor in evaluating ballplayers, and Pence has played in 154 games in six straight seasons. His only DL stint as a major leaguer came in his rookie season in 2007. The contract covers through age 35, and while I’m skeptical that Pence will be an above average regular in 2018, he’s unlikely to turn into another Rowand.

But, that said, I wouldn’t be particularly excited about paying Pence $18 million in 2014, much less 2018. If he’s your third or fourth best hitter, you probably have something. If you’re counting on him for more than that, then you’re in trouble, much like the Giants were this season.

Latest Posts
  1. Video: Miguel Sano hits his first major league home run

    Jul 7, 2015, 10:15 PM EDT

    Miguel Sano Miguel Sano

    On Tuesday, Miguel Sano hit the first of what should be many major league home runs.

  2. Giants activate Hunter Pence from the disabled list

    Jul 7, 2015, 9:25 PM EDT

    Hunter Pence Hunter Pence

    Hunter Pence is back from his second major injury this season. Maybe this time he’ll stick.

  3. Ruben Amaro: Cesar Hernandez, not Chase Utley, is the Phillies’ best second baseman

    Jul 7, 2015, 8:35 PM EDT

    Cesar Hernandez Cesar Hernandez

    The Phillies’ GM was pretty blunt about who would be playing second base when Chase Utley returns. It ain’t Chase Utley.

  4. Albert Pujols will participate in the 2015 Home Run Derby

    Jul 7, 2015, 7:45 PM EDT

    Albert Pujols Albert Pujols

    Albert Pujols will participate in the 2015 Home Run Derby. It will be his fourth career appearance in the Derby.

  5. Jenrry Mejia returns to the Mets after his 80-game suspension for PED use

    Jul 7, 2015, 6:55 PM EDT

    Jenrry Mejia Jenrry Mejia

    Jenrry Mejia is back with the Mets after missing 80 games due to a positive test for Stanozolol.

  6. Video: Paulo Orlando hits a walk-off grand slam to beat the Rays

    Jul 7, 2015, 6:05 PM EDT

    Alex Gordon, Paulo Orlando Alex Gordon, Paulo Orlando

    Paulo Orlando did what kids pretend to do in their backyards: he hit a walk-off grand slam.

  7. Yankees getting healthy: Jacoby Ellsbury and Andrew Miller due back Wednesday

    Jul 7, 2015, 4:10 PM EDT

    Andrew Miller Yankees Getty Images

    Two key players are ready to rejoin the Yankees after missing extended time with injuries.

  8. Kolten Wong leaves the Cardinals-Cubs game with a head contusion

    Jul 7, 2015, 3:57 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 3.55.26 PM

    He’ll likely be evaluated for a concussion.

  9. Kevin Correia designated for assignment by the Phillies

    Jul 7, 2015, 2:25 PM EDT

    Kevin Correia AP

    He went 0-3 with a 6.56 ERA in five starts.

  10. Dave Stewart said Touki Toussaint doesn’t throw 96. That’s true! He throws 98.

    Jul 7, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    Dave Stewart Getty Images

    There are guys who check stuff these days, Dave. So better to be vague.

  11. Rays lose Steven Souza to finger injury, activate John Jaso from 60-day disabled list

    Jul 7, 2015, 11:44 AM EDT

    Orioles Rays Spring Baseball AP

    Jaso has been out since Opening Day with a bruised left wrist.

  12. Former scout sues Major League Baseball over minimum wage violations, collusion

    Jul 7, 2015, 11:20 AM EDT

    mlb logo large

    Many have sured Major League Baseball over such things in the past.

  13. Jonathan Papelbon makes it clear, again: He wants out of Philadelphia

    Jul 7, 2015, 10:47 AM EDT

    Jonathan Papelbon AP

    “I’ve always been straightforward that I want to go play for a contender and I’m not going to shy away from it.”

  14. A fan was hit in the face by a foul ball in the Braves-Brewers game last night

    Jul 7, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    Miller Park Getty Images

    And even Andrelton Simmons, the best defensive player in baseball, says he wouldn’t sit as close as that without protective netting.

  15. Jake Odorizzi is ready to rejoin the Rays’ rotation

    Jul 7, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    Jake Odorizzi AP

    Odorizzi threw 5.2 shutout innings on 73 pitches in a minor-league rehab start Monday.

  16. Looking at the All-Star team snubs and surprises

    Jul 7, 2015, 8:28 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 8.10.14 AM Getty Images

    Short version: Ned Yost thinks this is an actual baseball game!

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. J. Hamilton (3656)
  2. M. Sano (3579)
  3. J. Ellsbury (3421)
  4. M. Cabrera (3086)
  5. C. Gomez (3051)
  1. B. Harper (3039)
  2. M. Banuelos (2999)
  3. P. Corbin (2914)
  4. G. Springer (2773)
  5. S. Gray (2768)