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.