We all know Hunter Pence is ridiculously hot. Well, the ladies may also think he’s “hot,” but of course I’m referring to his unbelievable production at the plate in the second half, specifically over the last two weeks. He absolutely crushed the Dodgers, hitting 5 home runs in the 4 game series. He’s also hit 6 in his last 6 games and 7 in his last 10, in which he’s also hitting .450 with 20 RBI…and that includes two games where he went 0-4! About the only thing he hasn’t done is somehow gain the ability of flight to catch that Chavez sinking liner that would have preserved Petit’s perfect game.
He’s hitting .421/9/25 for September, and .352/11/44 after the All-Star break, lifting his average to in impressive .295/25/92. Just a few weeks ago it seemed impossible that Pence could reach .300/25/100, but it’s absolutely within his grasp now (heck even 30 HRs), and although it’s been great for the Giants on the field, I wonder how it will affect their pocketbook.
It’s widely reported that Pence loves SF and wants to re-sign, but an extension wasn’t in the works before the trading deadline, and there was speculation that he might be traded. After his elation as the deadline passed, Giants fans took to Twitter to push for such a deal.
A few days ago, Pence himself confirmed that he’s talking with the Giants, telling Hank Schulman that there have been “conversations.” While this is encouraging, what does his recent hot streak do to his market value? No doubt it’s gone up, and if he hits those magical numbers in his slash line, Pence may cost quite a bit more than his assumed $13-14 million per year. He’d be an idiot, though, to NOT test the market, no matter how much I personally want him to resign. Why wouldn’t you? You don’t know what you’re worth until you have offers, and I assume that’s what his agent is pressing him to do. Other than the rare outlier who takes a hometown discount (Jared Weaver), most players want validation, if not the money. Even if his ultimate goal is to stay in SF, he can use other offers as leverage to force Sabean and co. to throw a few more simoleons, if not years into the deal.
Sabean and Baer have repeatedly acknowledged that they need a left fielder with a stick, but they would suddenly need two such outfielders should they let the market consume Pence. If these conversations progress, the Giants will have until five days after the conclusion of the World Series to lock him up, otherwise, he’ll find out what he’s truly worth.