Let’s have some Red Sox trade talk: Bradley for Pence, prospects

Photo Credit: Jean Fruth / National Baseball Hall of Fame

This is a pure fantasy trade type move – a hot stove league that becomes an air conditioner summer league transaction.  But sometimes even a day dream trade can become a reality.

Hunter Pence has questionable durability and an enormous price tag attached to his frequent visits to the disabled list. The San Francisco Giants are going nowhere. How bad is it? Pablo Sandoval is on the roster. I also noticed the Giants have the rotund Panda listed at 268 lbs. Talk about fake new. But back to Pence.

The Pence I remember was an outstanding outfielder for the Houston Astros before they sold Pence and others off to commence on a Big Dig type rebuilding project. A World Series championship shows how that worked out. The Pence of 2017 showed a player on the downward spiral. A look at some relevant numbers. Nothing like an enjoyable excursion through the metrics minefield.

Pence hit .260, but some of his metrics were far less than impressive. A wOBA of .303, 87 wRC+, .126 ISO, and .701 OPS. The right-handed hitter did have 13 home runs and 67 RBI in 134 games. The defense portion had Pence – a long time right fielder – at -3 DRS and a 2.2 UZR. So much for the routine metrics and I was not even attempted to put a screwdriver into my brain pan. The biggest metric Is not a metric – it is $18.5 MM payable for the 2018 season to be followed by a free agency farewell kiss. So why take him?

Jackie Bradley needs to go, and the Giants would be an ideal location with a spacious outfield and a team in the rebuilding process. Bradley’s downturn could possibly be dramatically reversed, and a now questionable career salvaged. Do the Giants need a bolstering of the outfield? Do I need Cheesecake?

The Giants outfield is – to be polite – questionable. Once again, I am forced despite my inner self warning my outer self to go look at the metrics. The Giants outfield is dead last in the National League with a dismal -0.3 fWAR. What you lack on offense you can balance out with defense. Not this time. The Giants rank 13th in the NL with a -2.4 UZR.

But that payroll figure on Pence. You need something and that something traces back to 2017 and Eduardo Nunez. Sometimes a deal takes a season or two or three to show tangible results. The Giants may have lost short-term and gained long-term.

The Red Sox shipped two prospects to the Giants for Nunez. Shaun Anderson is a right-hander who now toils with Richmond (AA) and is considered the 8th ranked prospect within the system.  The 23-year-old may soon move to the next level or even to the Giants.  His stock is rising, and it could have been rising in the Red Sox system.

Anderson has three solid pitches that can be plus offerings at their best. His 91-94 mph fastball tops out at 96 and generates a lot of groundouts because of its sink and the angle he creates with his 6-foot-4 frame. He has tremendous feel for his slider, a mid-80s weapon with late break that he also can morph into an upper-80s cutter. – MLB Prospect Watch

Next is Gregory Santos an international signing from the Dominican Republic. The right-handed Santos has not played this season but will soon make his American debut. Only 18-years-old Santos is ranked 15th on the Giants prospect list with a high ceiling projected.

Santos added about 3 mph to his fastball in 2017, reaching 97 mph and working at 91-94 mph as a 17-year-old. He demonstrates good aptitude for spinning a curveball that shows signs of becoming a plus pitch. His changeup isn’t as advanced but he shows some feel for what should be at least an average third offering. – MLB Prospect Watch

Is it possible to get one or both back in the Boston fold? If the Red Sox take on a massive contract for a fading talent and enticement is needed. Bradley certainly has a greater upside than Pence and just maybe Boston can get a return of some prospects of note. And do not dismiss Pence. Pence placed in the proper reserve role can be productive as the Red Sox march to the playoffs.


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About Rick McNair

Born in Boston and have lived in the area all my life but not as a Red Sox fan. My first game was actually at Braves Field where I saw a very young Eddie Matthews hit a home run. The Braves left and I quickly switched loyalties. I enjoy discussing the Red Sox past and the connection of that past to the present. I will often bring in remembrances of that into posts. As a retired teacher I have the time to occasional travel to foreign baseball soil and love meeting up with other fans of RSN on the road. I am also a fan of the NY Football Giants (via NJ) - a dwindling breed in Massachusetts.
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8 thoughts on “Let’s have some Red Sox trade talk: Bradley for Pence, prospects

  1. Perhaps a deal for either Anderson or Santos or both. Really any projectable minor leaguer. But taking Pence back in a deal is nonsensical. This team doesn’t have enough roster spots for the players it has. Bringing back a non-useful player to occupy one only further complicates the problem. I liked Pence too. But that style doesn’t hold up, as evidenced by the last few years (and even a few before 2016). This team is a contender. It doesn’t have any use for a reclamation project.

  2. There is a huge difference between adding some veteran depth and getting a player based solely on nostalgia. Pence is a below replacement level player at this stage of his career AND makes $18M per season. Even having SF eat a fair portion of that money, he’s currently no better hitter than Bradley and is a liability on defense. The firstbase/DH mix is already crowded and the team is already facing a roster crunch with more more players than spots with the return of Thornburg, Wright and Pedroia. Adding Pence is not even a lateral move. It’s a step backward. And even with the desire to rid the team of Bradley, they would have to find themselves in the most desperate of scenarios to consider this type of trade as an option. Perhaps attaching some upper end prospects to his contract (or even 50% of his contract). But the #8 prospect in a poor SF farm system is probably an overall prospect in the 500-600 range, and that’s not the type of player worth a roster spot for the 2018 version of Hunter Pence. I’d have to imagine that they’d DFA Bradley before making that kind of move

    1. I would certainly shed no tears if they managed to DFA Bradley, but that would most be a last resort. I certainly concede that the Pence of today is not the Pence of just two seasons ago. Maybe wishful thinking? Maybe not? Be interesting to see what happens with Pence when and if his health returns. As far as the prospects I do have a fondness for Anderson who despite his 8th place ranking is still being considered a potential middle of the rotation starter. Anderson has taken an excellent move forward in the EL this year especially in control. And do not underestimate Santos. I believe eventually the key piece will end up being Santos. Based on the Red Sox illustrious history of recent pitching development I hate to see any arms leave the nursery.

  3. JBJ has some value. The defense and age and salary and few years of team control should make it to where the Sox don’t have to take on a bad contract to move him. Pence doesn’t help this team. And with where the payroll is now, the luxury tax implications that occur by taking on a player that would give you the same (or worse) offensive output and below replacement defense make this trade proposal baffling. It would be an absolute gift to the Giants to make this move regardless of the prospect package coming back- unless that package included SF’s #1 prospect Heliot Ramos. And even then, the acquisition of Pence in the deal still makes it questionable. They have guys coming back from injury and need roster spots. To waste one on Hunter Pence while paying him $18M per season is the type of move that gets people fired

    1. Certainly valid with the big issue being 10/5 regarding Pence who enjoys the Bay area. But, then again, the Red Sox management does have a tradition of dunderhead moves. As far as offense JBJ is now virtually worthless and defensively I view him as possibly the third best CF in the AL East. I would do absolutely anything to dump Bradley and have been that way since he arrived. I have always been a fan of Pence and cherish the idea of late season veteran acquisitions. Be interesting to see who starts to surface come July and the selling/buying season. Like to see if SF moves him (Pence willing) with plenty of incentives ($$$) tossed in. Anderson may end up being a reliable #3. SF picked right with both.

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