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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Giants Ink Pence, Other Decisions Loom

The 2013 season finally comes to an end Sunday and the Giants attempt to use the same recipe for success two years in a row didn't work out for them very well. They had some glaring holes that got exposed throughout the season and it's the reason why they'll be finishing at the bottom of the NL West just 1 year after winning the World Series in 2012.

We'll be going back and looking at some ups and downs of the season soon, but I first wanted to look forward to 2014 a bit, as they just completed their first move in shaping next years roster. The Giants inked Hunter Pence to a 5 year, $90 million deal that will keep the energetic, vocal leader in the Bay Area through the 2018 season. It took me a second to process my thoughts on this deal, but at the end of the day (had to throw in the Brian Sabean slogan there), this does make a lot of sense. Just look at Pence's production this year, his first full season in San Francisco. With the season wrapping up Sunday, Pence will finish the 2013 campaign with a solid .283 average, 27 big fly's, 99 RBI and 22 stolen bases. He showed again why he's not only a threat with the bat, but on the base paths as well with his first career 20-20 season, and I don't think it'll be his last. Some may say it was his contract year and he won't repeat these numbers down the line, but we've gotten to know Pence pretty well as a ballplayer over the last year and a half, and I don't think Giants fans have to worry about this one becoming complacent. Chances are, he could have gotten a bigger deal out on the open market, so for the Giants to get this done this early was big. Now they can focus solely on what to do with Tim Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong between now and the time free agents file in November.

Though the Giants have other contracts expiring, Linceucm and Vogey's will be at the top of their list. After Vogey's injury riddled season, the Giants could decide to opt-out of his deal and avoid paying him $6.5 million in 2014. Vogey wouldn't be a bad options as a 5th starter, but the Giants could wait and see what the market holds for him as there are a ton of 2nd-tiere starting pitchers on this years free agent market. The starting rotation is going to be a crucial area for the Brian Sabean this winter and I think that played a big part in getting Pence taken care of so early. Right now, the only two guys guaranteed a spot in the Giants 2014 rotation are Matt Cain and Madison Burmgarner. It's hard to imagine that they'd be in this spot just two years after having arguably the top rotation in baseball, but here we are. One guy who I expect to see very much in the thick of things in terms of a rotation spot in 2014 though is Yusmeiro Petit. The 29 year-old right-hander has been one one of the Giants top arms over the last 6 weeks, and it may have earned him strong consideration to be part of the 2014 starting 5. He's looked much better than Vogey has, and will be a fraction of the price. Then there's also Chad Gaudin, but as good as he looked in his stint as a starter, I just wouldn't have faith in relying on him over the course of a full season to give you 180-200 quality innings.

So, between left field, the three open rotation spots, and deciding what to do with their bullpen next year, Brian Sabean certainly has his work cut out for him. With the dearth of viable trade chips and the excess of free agent options this winter, the Giants may be more active in free agency than they have in quite a while. We'll start discussing some possible options for the team, as well as reviewing the 2013 season in coming posts.
The Giants Baseball Blog