The Giants acquired Hunter Pence yesterday from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for Nate Schierholtz, one of the Giants’ top prospects, Tommy Joseph, and Class A pitcher Seth Rosin, who is not considered a top prospect. In addition, the Phillies also sent over $500,000 to the Giants to help cover part of the $3.8 million left on Pence’s contract for 2012. The pros of this trade definitely outweigh the cons.
Let’s start with the pros. One positive aspect of the trade is that Pence is not a “rental player.” One of the reasons why so many fans disliked the Beltran trade is because his contract was up at the end of the 2011 season, meaning he would become a free agent after being with the Giants for only a couple months, and there was no guarantee that he would re-sign with the Giants. Pence’s contract ends in 2013, so he will be with the Giants through next season, unless the Giants decide Pence is too expensive and trade him at the end of the season (that seems unlikely though).
One potential negative aspect is that taking on Pence’s contract could mean that it would be hard to re-sign Melky Cabrera in the offseason. However, Brian Sabean said after acquiring Pence, “There is some flexibility in the budget hopefully to sign Melky and plug what our holes will be in off-season.” Cabrera is a player that the Giants cannot let get away, so it appears as if Sabean will do everything he can to keep Pence and Cabrera around. If the Giants can have Cabrera and Pence in the corners of the outfield next year, that would be a pretty unstoppable combination.
Some fans could see trading away the number two prospect, Joseph, in the Giants’ system as a negative, however, it really is not. Joseph is a catching prospect, but the Giants already have plenty of catchers in the system with Andrew Susac rising in the ranks of prospects, Eli Whiteside, Hector Sanchez, and, obviously, Buster Posey. With the Giants’ depth at the catching position, trading Joseph is not a big loss. Rosin wasn’t a highly-ranked prospect, so losing him wasn’t too significant.
One negative is seeing Schierhotltz go. Giants fans will surely miss “Nate the Great” for his good attitude, all his years with the Giants, his incredibly accurate arm, and his excellent defense in AT&T Park’s strange right field. Schierholtz also had some great clutch, game-winning hits too. The bottom line is that Schierholtz played an important role on the Giants. He was a defensive specialist and a strong bench player who could come in to pinch hit and give the Giants a great at-bat. He was named the starter in right field a few times in his tenure with the Giants, but he was never able to consistently play in the starting lineup. Schierholtz has a natural power swing, and in a hitter’s park like Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Schierholtz will definitely show off his power that he wasn’t able to fully display at AT&T Park. Giants fans wish him nothing but the best in Philadelphia, especially since the Phillies lack outfield depth, he will get the starts that he deserves.
The main positive aspect of the trade that basically trumps all other aspects is Hunter Pence. The addition of Pence more than makes up for the loss of Schierholtz, who could never find offensive consistency, which cost him starts. His defense might not be as great as Schierholtz’ (although that’s an unfair comparison since Schierholtz’ defense in right field at AT&T Park is superior to anyone), but his hitting ability and his power is quite remarkable. In Pence’s career, he has hit a .290 average, .342 OBP, .481 slugging, 131 home runs, and 471 RBI’s. Pence is a two-time All-Star, and in 2011, when he was an All-Star, he hit a .314 average, .370 OBP, .502 slugging, 22 home runs, and 97 RBI’s. This season Pence is hitting .269, with 17 home runs, and 59 RBI’s. Pence, obviously, has incredible power and will fill the number five batting spot while Pablo Sandoval is out. The Giants needed outfield depth with Blanco and Pagan struggling, so Pence and his strong hitting will help the Giants immensely in their playoffs push. Hopefully, Pence can help the Giants win the NL West title.