The Giants have made a trade in an attempt to improve their offense. The big move that seemed to be on and off this week finally came to fruition as the Phillies are sending Hunter Pence to San Francisco for Nate Schierholtz and minor leaguers Tommy Joseph and Seth Rosin.
The Giants need offense and Pence could potentially help with that … but I am afraid that Pence’s defense might offset some of the gains that he will bring to the table.
What they got:
Pence is putting together a pretty nice season for the Phillies. He is hitting .271/ .336/ .447 with 17 home runs, good enough for a wRC+ of 111 which would make him the fourth-best hitter on the Giants after Cabrera (147), Posey (140) and Sandoval (126).
The major concern that I have with Pence is his defense, especially with him being slated to play RF in AT&T Park. His first couple seasons the defensive metrics liked his defense, but since 2010 the numbers have deteriorated to where he is rated as one of the worst defensive right fielders in baseball.
Taking it all into account you probably have a guy that is worth around 1 to 1.5 wins over the rest of the season.
What they gave up:
The centerpiece of the deal for the Phillies is Tommy Joseph, who was listed as the Giants second-best prospect at the start of the season by Baseball America. Joseph has big power and is very young — that being said, he is still very raw.
Not to mention the Giants have a young catcher in Buster Posey blocking his path to the majors with other catching depth in the system. He is a nice prospect and could blossom into a good player, but I don’t mind the Giants losing him.
Schierholtz is a decent player, but his hot and cold streaks didn’t endear him to Bruce Bochy. He played the best right field at AT&T Park that I have ever seen and that will certainly be missed. Maybe the change of scenery will help him fulfill his potential.
Rosin was rated as the Giants No. 14 prospect by John Sickels, so not a huge loss. However, he has pitched pretty well in the low minors. This season in San Jose he has posted a 3.13 FIP in 56.1 innings while posting some pretty nice strikeout numbers.
Pence in right field replaces the Schierholtz/Gregor Blanco combo. When you look at what ZiPS projects for the rest of the season Pence will be worth approximately 1 WAR, the Shierholtz/Blanco combo was projected to be worth around 0.75 WAR. So the Giants are better, but not by a huge margin.
Fortunately for the Giants this isn’t a pure rental situation, as Pence has one more season of team control. He is projected to earn about $13 to 14 million next season, so if he is a 3-4 WAR player he could potentially have some decent surplus value. At worst, the Giants could flip him in the off-season if they decide they can’t afford him.
Overall the Giants probably got a pretty even amount of value in Pence for what they gave up in Schierholtz, Joesph and Rosin. I would have loved to see these trade chips used to get better at a position that has really killed them (like second base) but there really wasn’t much available there.
Today’s trade might make the Giants offense better. However, unless Pence is able to produce a fluky-hot second half like he had in Philadelphia last season, this isn’t really the game-changer kind of deal that guarantees an NL West title.