Wednesday, November 7, 2012
GM: Giants keeping Hunter Pence
By Jerry Crasnick
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- San Francisco Giants general manager Brian Sabean can guarantee that outfielder Hunter Pence will be back with the team in 2013. He is not close to ready to make the same assurances with closer Brian Wilson.
Sabean said Wednesday the Giants plan to tender a contract to Pence, even though the right fielder could be in line to make $13 million-plus in salary arbitration next season. Some media outlets have suggested the combination of Pence's big salary and his late-season struggles at the plate might prompt the Giants to consider cutting ties with the player and moving in a different direction with their outfield.
"Pence is going to be coming back," Sabean said at the general managers' meetings. "We think there are some things he can do to fix what went wrong this year. We like the player. We made a big trade to get him, and he's going to be a Giant next year."
The Giants acquired Pence, 29, in a July deadline deal with Philadelphia. Pence hit .219 with a .671 OPS for San Francisco in the final two months, and was even worse during the postseason, hitting .210 with 17 strikeouts in 62 at-bats.
But he drove in 45 runs in 59 regular-season games with the Giants, and he helped inspire the team with his emotional pregame pep talks during the playoffs and World Series.
"We never would have traded for a guy that we remotely thought we would be non-tendering," Sabean said. "So any speculation about that doesn't make any sense. By that point in the season, you pretty much know where a guy is going in terms of the arbitration clock and the money."
The outlook isn't nearly as clear for Wilson, who underwent his second career Tommy John surgery in April. Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo combined for 39 saves in Wilson's absence, and the San Francisco bullpen was superb against Cincinnati, St. Louis and Detroit in the postseason.
Since Wilson probably won't be ready to pitch until the middle of next season, the Giants don't appear to be in position to commit to him by the Nov. 30 tender date. That means he is likely to hit the open market as a free agent.
"This was his second (Tommy John), and if anyone could defy the odds, it would be him," Sabean said. "But he's a long way from being at full strength, which means he's a long way from being cleared medically. It's wait and see. Until I get more medical information, we're not going near the subject."
Sabean also said the Giants have been actively working to re-sign free agents Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro and Jeremy Affeldt, pivotal players in the team's title run. While Sabean described himself as "optimistic" on signing the three, he declined to predict where the Giants' efforts will lead.