Giants Upgrade Their Outfield With Hunter Pence

The San Francisco Giants today acquired Hunter Pence from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for outfielder Nate Schierholtz, catching prospect Tommy Joseph, and right-handed pitcher Seth Rosin, who’s still in Single-A. The Giants will be responsible for the remainder of Pence’s $10.4 million salary for this season. Update: The Giants will receive cash from the Phillies to cover some portion of the $3.3 million remaining on Pence’s salary this season, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Next season will be Pence’s last year of arbitration-eligibility after which he will become a free agent.

Pence is a right fielder and will replace the Gregor Blanco-Nate Schierholtz platoon that’s patrolled right field at AT&T Park this season. Pence will upgrade the Giants on offense but could be a liability on defense, particularly in the tricky corners of the right-field wall and Triples Alley at AT&T.

So far this season, Pence is batting .271/.336/.447 with a .339 wOBA and a 111 wRC+. Even with that line, Pence may be the right-handed power bat the Giants have been searching for. Pence is no Carlos Beltran, who the Giants acquired at last year’s deadline, but he’s hit 17 home runs this season, making him the immediate leader on the Giants. Schierholtz and Blanco, both left-handed hitters, have combined for ten home runs so far this season.

AT&T can be hard on power hitters, but it suppresses left-handed power to a much greater extent than right-handed power. According to Statcorner, the home run park factor for left-handed hitters at AT&T is 66; for righties, it’s 88. In 82 career plate appearances at AT&T Park, Pence has batted .329/.366/.566 with three doubles and five home runs.

Blanco, a non-roster invitee, had an excellent spring and won the the right field job over Schierholtz. His overall line for the season is .245/.337/.362 with a .321 wOBA and a 101 wRC+. But Blanco built much of that line with excellent  play in May and has slumped badly in June and July. That opened the door for Schierholtz, who’s batted .257/.327/.429 with a .321 wOBA and a 102 wRC+ so far this season. Schierholtz has been in the Giants organization his entire career but didn’t hit consistently enough to be an every day player.

The addition of Pence will also give the Giants flexibility in center field. Angel Pagan has held that position all season but, like Blanco, is mired in a slump. Pagan, a switch hitter, is batting .210/.244/.309 in July after igniting the Giants offense with .375/.422/.462 in May. Pagan’s defense in center field has also been sub-par. He seems to have trouble reading the ball off the bat and often breaks the wrong way on fly balls to the outfield. Blanco is an excellent defender and could steady the outfield defense for the Giants, especially with Pence in right field.

With the rival Dodgers making big moves in the last week, the Giants had no choice to counter with their own. Even if Pence gets hot, he’s not the kind of hitter that can carry a team offensively. But with Buster Posey and Melky Cabrera having great seasons at the plate, Pence adds another dimension the Giants have been missing. When Pablo Sandoval returns from the disabled list, where he’s nursing a strained hamstring, the Giants lineup will look more balanced and formidable.



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Wendy writes about sports and the business of sports. She's been published most recently by Vice Sports, Deadspin and NewYorker.com. You can find her work at wendythurm.pressfolios.com and follow her on Twitter @hangingsliders.


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dkmuldoon
Guest
dkmuldoon
3 years 10 months ago

Reports say the Phillies will be sending some cash to cover part of that salary.

jfree
Member
jfree
3 years 10 months ago

Who are the Phillies going to play in the OF for the rest of this season? I assume Mayberry is one. Juan Pierre? Nate Schierholtz? Dominic Brown?

Dave S
Guest
Dave S
3 years 10 months ago

yes

hk
Guest
hk
3 years 10 months ago

I would think it would be some combination of the four that you mentioned plus Laynce Nix. If they deal Pierre, they’ll probably add Jason Pridie to the mix.

Robbie G.
Guest
Robbie G.
3 years 10 months ago

LF Domonic Brown
CF John Mayberry
RF Nate Schierholtz

That would be my guess. Man, that is a far cry from Ibanez-Victorino-Werth circa 2009-10.

hk
Guest
hk
3 years 10 months ago

For next year, I’m guessing they spend on one OF position, probably CF.

LF Dom Brown
CF Michael Bourn or BJ Upton
RF Schierholtz vs. RHP’s and Mayberry vs. LHP’s

Robbie G.
Guest
Robbie G.
3 years 10 months ago

Or platoon Mayberry and Schierholtz in CF and sign a RF.

BookWorm
Guest
BookWorm
3 years 10 months ago

Just curious, but when you say “far cry,” do you mean that the new outfield will be an improvement or a downgrade? Because Werth and Ibanez were both way negative in UZR in 2010 and Victorino wasn’t great. I hope no one’s hoping to get that Phillies outfield back!

jfree
Member
jfree
3 years 10 months ago

I just dropped Raul Ibanez in a deep 20-team league for Domonic Brown. Hope regular playing time is the charm for a former prospect

Tim
Guest
Tim
3 years 10 months ago

Pence, Melky, Sandoval and Posey give the giants the best lineup they have had in a few years. The NL west finish should be interesting especially if Arizona gets involved.

fergie348
Guest
fergie348
3 years 10 months ago

It looks like the Giants fan base is pumped up about this move. Joseph probably wasn’t going to stick behind the plate, he’s a below average defensive catcher but his bat will get him to the show. Nate will put up decent numbers in CBP, hitting at AT&T really hurt his power numbers. He’ll like that right field porch..

Chris R
Guest
Chris R
3 years 10 months ago

Accounts I read are that Joseph’s defense is very good for his age.

hk
Guest
hk
3 years 10 months ago

From Baseball America: Joseph has worked hard to clean up his receiving and blocking, and scouts no longer wonder whether he can stay behind the plate. He also has plus arm strength and has erased 48 percent of basestealers this season.

elmo
Guest
elmo
3 years 10 months ago

nah, reports are Joseph’s defense is getting better.

and re the base: stupid fans are always more than happy to trade away prospects that they never heard of and know nothing about. almost everyone in SF was ecstatic over the Beltran for Wheeler deal at the time.

LeviDavis
Guest
LeviDavis
3 years 10 months ago

“almost everyone in SF was ecstatic over the Beltran for Wheeler deal at the time.”

Are you sure about that? Want to quantify it?

channelclemente
Guest
3 years 10 months ago

The Giants apparently got $6MM cash from the Phillies as well.

downbythebay
Guest
downbythebay
3 years 10 months ago

a portion of the $3.3 million still owed to Pence for the rest of this season, actually

walt526
Guest
walt526
3 years 10 months ago

Would it make any sense to play Cabrera in RF and Pence in LF? Pence has never played LF in the majors and (probably) has a better arm than Cabrera (who hasn’t played extensively in RF), but AT&T is unusual in that range is relatively more critical than arm for RFers. Given that we’re 2/3rds through the season, Bochy will probably just play the players where they are most familiar. But I suspect that their physical tools would be better utilized if they swapped corner outfield positions.

vivalajeter
Guest
vivalajeter
3 years 10 months ago

“Would it make any sense to play Cabrera in RF and Pence in LF? Pence has never played LF in the majors”

You just answered your own question. It was be silly to trade for a player in the middle of the pennant race, then ask him to play a position he’s never played before. Maybe next year – with an off-season and spring to work on it – but you don’t set someone up for failure in this type of situation.

Robbie G.
Guest
Robbie G.
3 years 10 months ago

I would like to see someone put together a comparison of the prospects package that Philly gave up for Hunter Pence and the prospects package that Philly just received from San Francisco.

I never understood the Pence hype leading up to the trade to Philly last season. Pence has been pretty consistently unspectacular yet has been presented to fans as a star player for quite a while now.

It will be interesting to see if Ruben Amaro, Jr. is able to auction off any other expendable veterans for anything of value. I’m not sure why the Phillies are not listening to offers for Carlos Ruiz. What are the chances that Ruiz maintains this level of play beyond this season? My god, what does Amaro not get about the need to buy low and sell high?

walt526
Guest
walt526
3 years 10 months ago

Yeah I would feel a lot better about this trade if Belt were looking more like a long-term solution at first than a prospect who might not pan out. While Joseph doesn’t have a future as a catcher in the majors, he might be a decent low-cost option at 1B in 2013 and beyond. And I’m not convinced that Pence represents that much of a net upgrade over Blanco/Schierholtz given what they lose defensively.

Chomp
Guest
Chomp
3 years 10 months ago

But he does have a future as a catcher. Average defensive backstop with power. He is 21 and has displayed the work ethic and maturity to already go from a fringe catching prospect to a projection as an average or better defender.

Graham
Guest
Graham
3 years 10 months ago

I think he meant “in the majors, as a Giant, in the near future.” On account of that Posey guy.

hk
Guest
hk
3 years 10 months ago

Singleton + Cosart + Zeid + Santanan >> Joseph + Schierholtz + Rosin. However, the Phils got Pence with 2 years + 2 monhts of control whereas the Giants are ony getting him with 1 year + 2 months of control, so getting back less is expected. That being said, the real question is why did they trade for Pence one year ago when they were a virtual lock to make the playoffs and Dom Brown was just starting to play well (.398 OBP last July)?

jcxy
Guest
jcxy
3 years 10 months ago

Answer: The Phillies believe/believed that pitching depth and defense are drivers of success more in the regular season than the playoffs. They (correctly, IMO) saw that, despite their superficial success (measured in W/L), they had a significant need to fill offensively if they were going to be competitive in the playoffs.

As for Brown…the Phillies have quietly appreciated defensive value under RAJ–even Ibanez rated as average for the first two years of the deal. Anyway, the reasons why Brown hasn’t been a FT MLer can be explained a dozen ways by a dozen people, but the common element in all the theories is that they wanted a more polished OF. I guess we’ll see if or the degree to which this stunted his growth.

vivalajeter
Guest
vivalajeter
3 years 10 months ago

“I would like to see someone put together….”

Go ahead and put it together then. Nobody’s stopping you.

” I’m not sure why the Phillies are not listening to offers for Carlos Ruiz. What are the chances that Ruiz maintains this level of play beyond this season?”

I get a kick out of stuff like that. If it’s clear to you that Ruiz is playing over his head, then why wouldn’t it be clear to GMs and scouts? Do you think teams are lining up to give up top prospects for Ruiz, thinking he’s the next Piazza? Isn’t it more likely that they brought him up in their various discussions over the last week or two, and nobody made a sufficient offer?

Robbie G.
Guest
Robbie G.
3 years 10 months ago

I didn’t mean to suggest that Carlos Ruiz is “playing over his head.” He has been somehow flying under the radar as one of the league’s best catchers for the last several years, despite playing for a high profile team. [Maybe part of the problem is that his bull-headed manager refused to bat him higher than eighth prior to this season.] What I said is that Ruiz is unlikely to sustain this level of play, and that’s because of his age. He is, what, 32, 33? It’s difficult to imagine that he is still going to be playing at a high level by the time Philly is ready to be competitive again. And he’s having a career year. So why not auction him off to the highest bidder? Obviously you just hold on to the guy if nobody is willing to give up anything particularly good, but I get the feeling that he was never really shopped. I get the feeling that the Phillies expect to be back in the thick of things next season, and that is just completely irrational. This team is very old, has a depleted farm system, and has a massive amount of money tied up with some old players who are just going to keep getting older.

Hurtlockertwo
Guest
Hurtlockertwo
3 years 10 months ago

A very nice addition to the Giants who seem to have gotten him cheap!

Brian
Guest
Brian
3 years 10 months ago

I wouldn’t call Joseph cheap. I liked him a lot, and thought he could become an offensive threat in time. The fact that we have depth at catcher made him expendable though (although Susac hasn’t done well this year). It also seems to show the Giants have faith in Belt in the long term since Joseph (or Posey) were potential 1B options in the future.

As for Pence, I don’t expect him to light the world on fire, but he is a solid pickup for a seemingly very lefthanded lineup. He has decent pop and has shown he can hit in AT&T. We’ll see how well he can handle right field. At the very least, this trade is a good PR move to show the Giants are making an effort to win the division while you have the Dodgers going all pokemon and grabbing all of the available players.

Bigmouth
Guest
3 years 10 months ago

Brian, your analysis strikes me as spot on.

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