Phillies Send Hunter Pence to San Francisco

In a move considered a counter to the Los Angeles Dodgers acquiring Shane Victorino, the San Francisco Giants have acquired right fielder Hunter Pence from the Phillies according to Jon Heyman. The Phillies acquired Pence from the Houston Astros at the deadline last year in exchange for prospects Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Singleton, Josh Zeid, and Domingo Santana. That price was paid for Pence’s presence in a 2011 post-season run, as well as two extra years under arbitration — his third and fourth. The Giants will get Pence for the final two months of this season, and then have him in his final and most expensive year of arbitration, when he will get a raise on his $10,400,000 salary for 2012.

Pence’s brief stint in Philly ends, but he remains in rare territory. He is one of five Phillies outfielders since 1950 to take at least 600 trips to the plate with the club and post an OPS+ of 125 or greater, right behind old friend Jayson Werth.

Player OPS+ PA From To BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
Bobby Abreu 139 5885 1998 2006 .303 .416 .513 .928 *9/8D
Greg Luzinski 133 5321 1970 1980 .281 .363 .489 .852 *7/39
Jayson Werth 130 2114 2007 2010 .282 .380 .506 .885 *9/783
Hunter Pence 126 676 2011 2012 .289 .357 .486 .842 *9
Wes Covington 126 1544 1961 1965 .284 .343 .471 .814 *7/98
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/31/2012.

In return for Pence, the Phillies get outfielder Nate Schierholtz, 20-year-old prospect¬†Tommy Joseph, and another player. Schierholtz is a 28-year-old left-handed hitter who has played part-time in the outfield for the Giants since 2009. He has come on strong in the last two years, posting a .325 wOBA, right around the league average for a corner outfielder. Everyone raves about his defense though, as he has played a strong right field in San Francisco — one of the toughest outfields to traverse — and has one of the best outfield arms in baseball. Schierholtz earned $1.3 million in his first year of arbitration this past off-season and will be arbitration-eligible in the next two season as well. Relative to Hunter Pence, Schierholtz is much cheaper and gives the Phillies much more financial flexibility.

One issue with Schierholtz is that he absolutely cannot hit left-handed pitching. Over the last two years, he has a .232 wOBA against southpaws compared to .355 against right-handers. The Phillies simply must use him in a platoon, likely with John Mayberry, who has posted a .294 wOBA against RHP and .370 against LHP over the last two years.

Joseph was taken in the second round of the 2009 draft. A catcher who can play first base, Joseph ranked #2 in Baseball America’s top-10 prospect list for the Giants, and #4 in Kevin Goldstein’s top-11 prospects list. Goldstein ¬†concludes that Joseph has good power potential, but doesn’t have a great game plan at the plate. With Double-A Richmond, Joseph was under-performing with only eight home runs in 335 plate appearances with a .705 OPS, but he is young for the level and has plenty of time to adapt and grow. The Phillies may see him as the heir to the 33-year-old Carlos Ruiz in a couple years, or he could be used in a future trade.

The biggest component of the deal for the Phillies, though, is clearing Pence from the books. He is owed $3.5 million for the final two months (the Phillies are sending money to the Giants to cover some of this) and is expected to earn $14.3 million in arbitration in the off-season. The Phillies have roughly $113 million committed already, so having another $14 million free gives the organization a lot of breathing room.

UPDATE: The third player in the Pence deal is Seth Rosin, a 23-year-old pitcher who has spent the year with Single-A San Jose. Rosin has shown good command and an ability to miss bats, but he has to repeat it at higher levels before any excitement is warranted.

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59 comments

  1. jimmy

    July 31, 2012 06:08 PM

    @Ryan…must be a reason for that; even in ML he’s had limited AB’s against LHP the last 2 years, and only has 2 HR’s.

    He’ll have his chance this year since Mayberry is the only RHB in OF

  2. hk

    July 31, 2012 06:15 PM

    Sulla,

    Don’t confuse feeling that it is better to have a mediocre, cheap RF, a young catching prospect and a high floor / low ceiling pitching prospect than to pay Hunter Pence $18M for the next 2 months of this season and all of next with liking the path down which RAJ has led us or feeling like the future is bright.

    Yes, RAJ has been a horrific GM since taking over the 2008 World Champions. In my opinion, he even blew it today by trading Victorino for too little. I would have preferred keeping Shane, making the qualifying offer and either getting a sandwich pick or paying him $12M to play CF next year. However, silver linings like a decent return for Pence and a chance for Dom Brown to play every day for two months are all that we have to show for this year since the team has floundered and neither RAJ nor Charlie will be fired.

  3. jimmy

    July 31, 2012 06:21 PM

    @James …Geib said the Phillies saved $6 mil and are slightly under the luxury tax limit. Amaro concurred on tax issue. Haven’t seen anything else.

  4. Ryan

    July 31, 2012 06:38 PM

    The only reason he wasn’t played against lefties much is because Charlie didn’t want him to do so. His minor league numbers project that he won’t have a problem against lefties (DBrown).

  5. jimmy

    July 31, 2012 07:03 PM

    @ Ryan..check out his stats 2 yrs at LHV…he’s not playing much against LHP

  6. Mcneildon

    July 31, 2012 07:41 PM

    James,
    Looking at Cot’s Contracts page and factoring in Hamels’ 24 million in addition to adjusting values according to average annual value (which is what counts towards the luxury tax, not actual salary in a given year) it appears that they’ll be around 140-145 million in commitments going into the offseason. It could be a little more, but I’m not sure how much money non-arbitration-eligible players like Worley will get next year. So, it looks like they’ll have 25-30 million dollars to spend if they want to stay under the tax. I could have calculated that all wrong, so somebody please correct me if I’m off.

  7. BayAreaGuy

    August 01, 2012 05:51 AM

    Message to Philly fans… as a lifelong bay area native and Giants fan I’ve watched nate his entire career. He’s had his opportunities with SF but, IMO, they never fully committed to him and gave him a real shot at an everyday role. Make no mistake, this kid can play. I know the haul for Pence isn’t very sexy and you guys gave up a ton to get him last year, but Nate plays some of the best RF in the league, has plus speed and an absolute cannon. He’ll turn a lot of doubles into singles or outs.. Quietly Nate has some real power as well, you should see this guy take BP.. At a good price and under club control for the next few years, i think he’s a nice player to have. A consummate pro on and off the field, I think if given the chance he will do well. Thanks for your time in SF, Nate… good luck.

  8. Ryan

    August 01, 2012 08:12 AM

    @jimmy

    Dom’s MLB stats from 2011 show about even splits vs. lefties and righties. espn.go.com/mlb/player/splits/_/id/29673/year/2011/domonic-brown . He hits for better average and on base percentage vs. lefties than righties but with better power vs. righties. You can see the same thing in his splits at LHV this season: www.milb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?t=p_pbp&pid=502126 . There is absolutely no reason to sit him against lefties unless you also sit Ryan Howard and the former Shane Victorino who have much worse splits.

  9. Marty

    August 01, 2012 11:37 AM

    James/Mcneildon
    You also need to factor in health benefits and 40 man roster/bonus dollars, which was estimated in the article to be about $14M. www.philly.com/philly/blogs/phillies_zone/understanding-payroll-and-luxury-tax.html.
    This makes sense with RAJ notes $6M saved getting them below the cap this year. Ruiz’s option next year will completely count against the cap ($5M), thus they are around $160M leaving about $18M available to upgrade 3B, bench, bullpen, and outfield.

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