Philly Receives Respectable Return for Hunter Pence

The San Francisco Giants have secured a veteran outfielder for the stretch run but it comes at the cost of a young catching prospect.

Tommy Joseph, 21, was the organization’s second round draft pick in 2009 and he’s moved methodically through the minor league system, one level each year, and landed in double-A to begin the 2012 season. Despite being known as an offensive-minded catcher, the Arizona native has yet to post a wRC+ above 95, meaning he’s struggled to produce league-average offense. Despite that, he’s shown raw power potential and slugged 22 home runs in 127 high-A games last season. This season his isolated power rating has dipped to .132 (from .198 in ’11).

Joseph doesn’t hit for average, his walk rate is modest and he flirts with 20% strikeout rates so he’ll need to remain at catcher to have any true value at the big league level. Defensively, he’s made strides in the finer aspects of his game, which is good news because his strong arm would be wasted at first base and he just doesn’t have the type of profile that hints at future success there.

Philadelphia currently has the underrated Carlos Ruiz starting behind the plate at the big league level but he’s already 33 and won’t be around forever. The club’s best catching prospect – prior to this deal – was Sebastian Valle who also has a number of question marks surrounding his future potential in the majors. Prior to the season, I ranked Valle as the Phillies’ third best prospect in a relatively weak system and he appears to have taken a small step back this season. Joseph, on the other hand, was ranked as the Giants’ third best prospect in another weak system and his value has held steady.

Joseph and Valle are both currently playing at the double-A level and neither has performed well enough to warrant a promotion so they may split time behind the dish while Joseph also sees some time at first base. The former is likely about a year away from receiving his first cup of coffee with the big league club.

For me, the real steal of the deal may be Seth Rosin. I ranked the right-handed reliever in the “Sleeper Alert” section of the Giants 2011-12 Top 15 prospect list and said, “If you’re a rival executive talking trade with the Giants this winter you’ll want to ask for Rosin as a throw in to any deal.” It’s nice of Philadelphia to listen.

The North Dakota native and University of Minnesota alum has been a little slower to develop – like many cold weather state prospects – but he’s produced solid minor league numbers and has a decent repertoire, including a low-90s fastball, curveball and changeup. He also has strong frame and has been durable.

Rosin, 23, has been pitching in high-A ball and currently has a 4.31 ERA but his FIP is more than a full run lower at 3.18. His strikeout rate currently sits at 10.86 K/9 and he’s showcased solid control. He’s made some spot starts and could be a useful bullpen arm at the big league level. In the grand scheme of things a middle reliever and spot starter does not have huge value but he could be a solid, cost-controlled commodity for three to six big league seasons.

The third player headed to Philadelphia is outfielder Nate Schierholtz who has struggled to find consistent playing time at the big league level but was coveted by a few teams. He’ll basically perform at a league-average level until Philadelphia acquires or promotes someone with more potential. He’s currently earning $1.3 million in 2012 and could be non-tendered this fall as an arbitration-eligible player.




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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect analysis. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


17 Responses to “Philly Receives Respectable Return for Hunter Pence”

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  1. Doug says:

    Now compare their return when you factor in Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Singleton, Josh Zeid and Domingo Santana for 155 games (and 5 playoff games) of Hunter Pence.

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      • hk says:

        Exactly nik. Why does what they gave up for 2 years plus 2 months of Pence factor into today’s trade of what they got for 1 year plus 2 months of Pence? Yes, they overpaid. So what should they have done. Keep Pence for another year, overpay him when he gets a bump to $14.5M in arbitration and get nothing for him after next year? They got a catcher who now is the top position player in the system, a long-shot, high upside / low floor pitcher, a much cheaper, less talented OF, who should do better just by moving away from one of MLB’s worst parks for LH hitters and some payroll flexibility to address other needs. This looks like a rare win for Ruben Amaro, Jr. From the Giants’ perspective, it may also be a win (making it a win-win), but this article is written from the Phillies’ perspective.

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  2. Mario Mendoza says:

    Respectable players, for sure, but not a respectable return for Pence.

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  3. Jeff says:

    Respectable another word for didn’t get much at all?

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  4. fergie348 says:

    Joseph was a nice piece but the emergence of Hector Sanchez and the fact that we already have Andrew Susac in high A means that the Giants had one catching chip to play without significantly weakening the depth chart. Nate never got fully established, so it’s a reasonable deal from the Giants perspective. Nothing truly valuable or irreplaceable was included, so if Pence produces for 1.5 seasons it’s a good deal for the Giants. Nate ought to like playing in Philly – the park is a much better fit for him.

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  5. phire sale says:

    i’m a little surprised to see message boards so down on this deal. the overpay to get him really shouldn’t figure in an objective analysis of the giants deal. let’s face it–his defense could charitably be described as inconsistent, he’s another year closer to FA, poised to make a significant sum in arbitration (14MM?), and whose main skill (offensive production) has regressed back to his true talent level–which is to say, worth *something* in the way of prospects, but certainly not worth the package the phillies gave up to acquire him.

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    • Spike says:

      agree with phire… and this is not to mention that Schierholtz is a terrific defensive RFer who is far from a zero with the bat and playing for peanuts. I was hoping the Mets would try to work out something for him.

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  6. jcxy says:

    Marc, do you subscribe to the notion that offense for catchers takes longer to develop?

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  7. Graham says:

    Sorry to disagree, Marc, but I think you’re way off with your assessment of Joseph. Any review of his potential should start with the fact that he’s holding his own in one of the worst hitting parks in AA — having just turned 21 two weeks ago. To say he has moved “methodically” gives a completely false impression of Joseph’s very solid development path. He was one of the top three or four prospects in the Giants system, and the same is now true in Philadelphia.

    (I also disagree that Rosin is anything more than an extra in this deal, but the jury is very much still out on him so I’ll give you that one.)

    Purely in terms of talent and salary, I’d say the Phils look to be the initial “winners” of this deal. That’s mitigated by the fact that the Giants are loaded at the catching position, and also because they needed another potent (and preferably right-handed) bat in the lineup. So all in all, this looks to me like it will benefit both teams.

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  8. Jonathan says:

    How does a discussion of this move not include questions about Sabean’s mental stability? The Pence trade isn’t bad on its own merits, but it looks terrible within the context of the Giants’ RF moves over the past 3 years. Sabean had Cody Ross two years ago and let him go, then traded Wheeler for Beltran and let Beltran walk. Now this. It speaks to the incredible work of the Giants’ draft/development operation that the team is still competitive despite Sabean’s annual brain farts.

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  9. Hawkeye says:

    Amaro mentioned on the TV broadcast Tuesday that Valle would be moving up to Triple-A, giving Joseph fulltime AB in Reading. Valle’s promotion not really warranted for the reasons named above, but glad to see both continue to get consistent AB.

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  10. Pops says:

    I’m going to guess that RAJ asked for Gary Brown and Sabean told him that wasn’t going to happen.

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  11. squads says:

    Right field in San Fran is the perfect spot to showcase the Pence fielding circus. It will be a miracle if he figures out how to play that wall by the end of 2013.

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