“Courtesy of SD Dirk”

by Andrew Bantly

Back on September 24, 2013 I wrote a piece that previewed the contract breakdown between Hunter Pence and the San Francisco Giants. As I do not work in the Giants front office I could only estimate the deal from my research. So let’s see where I was right, and wrong…

To begin, Hunter Pence signed a $90 million dollar deal over 5-years that was officially announced last Sunday before their last home game against the Padres where, with typical Hunter Pence dramatics, Pence hit a bases-loaded walk-off single to win the game.

Now to review I stated, in my prior piece, that Pence would get around $51 million for 3 years. It must be stated that when thinking about this deal I assumed the Giants would be careful, maybe overly careful, with their money. With memories of Barry Zito’s contract just now starting to fade away, Giants fans have a sensitive stomach when it comes to new contracts. With that said, the Giants organization must find a way to compete, without spending great amounts of money, with the Los Angeles Dodgers who spend like the US Government.

Let’s do some math for a moment.

$90 million ….

Divided by 5 …

Equals $18 million dollars per year.

Ok ready.

Hunter Pence is going to make, on average, $18 million dollars each year for the next five years. Currently, that is exactly how much Pence is worth, in this market. I thought it would be around $17 million, so seeing the $18 million mark was no surprise. I mean come on now, what is one million dollars anyway… But in all actuality, to sign a top market player for under $20 million dollars is a victory in it’s own right.

Well let’s ask one more time, is Hunter Pence’s truly worth $18 million per year?

OF COURSE!

This is a guy who played and started in every single game this season for the Giants — the first time this has happened since Alvin Dark back in 1954. Since 2008, he has played in, on average, 158 games each year. He is a durable athlete to say the least. A career .285 hitter who averages, since 2008, 24.67 home runs and 91 RBIs proves that he can produce and is worth the money. So yeah, he is worth the $18 million, because his production in the next 2-3 years should be worth the whole 5-year contract. He is even more valuable than that because if the Giants couldn’t make a deal with Pence and they lost this kind of production in right field, it would cause a big problem in their lineup on a daily basis.

But the 5 years…

Ok, that might have been a bit grim. But still, it’s a little long.

Pence turns 31-years-old next April and 5 years seems a little elongated.

Though Pence is a very durable athlete, it is very unlikely at the age of 35, in his final season, he will be a productive starting player. But I could be wrong; there is always a chance. But it’s an immensely small chance. His first 3 seasons should see a productive Hunter Pence, though less and less each year. But in his final 2 seasons in this new contract he will probably not be the guaranteed starter. Why? Because players who’s production and success rely directly on their athleticism and reaction skills, simply don’t age well. So in his final two seasons, at the age of 34 and 35, he will be in question and, possibly, in his final year be competing just to make the roster. But remember, this is a short-term thinking team.

But…

Look who else is on the market? Ok…

-Jacoby Ellsbury

-Shin-Soo Choo

-Nelson Cruz

-Carlos Beltran

Only Jacoby Ellsbury is younger than Pence, and only by 5 months. With that, each one of these players will be getting similar contracts with Shin-Soo Choo likely getting more money in his next contract. If one asked, what’s wrong with Nelson Cruz or Carlos Beltran joining the Giants instead? Yea sure these are two great hitters, but seeing Beltran back in San Francisco is HIGHLY unlikely as he left on his own. And Cruz is an awful fielder that would cost the Giants valuable runs.

“One more year, $26 million more than I thought Pence would get by signing early. I never learn — in baseball, money is free.” Ray Ratto

So yes, Ray Ratto and I agree that 4 years would have been best. But Hunter Pence’s new contract fits well with the Giants and how they have to make production in this market.

To end with a fun fact, in 2001 at the age of 36 Barry Bonds signed the same 5 year, $90 million dollar contract with the Giants. Frankly, that contract worked out great for the Giants.

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