The San Francisco Giants have not had the success that they planned on having to this point in 2013. As disappointing as that is, the Giants still have the core in place to be successful for years to come. With this knowledge in mind, it would not be intelligent for the team to trade right fielder Hunter Pence.
Plenty of trade prognosticators have brought up Pence’s name in talks because of the 30-year-old’s expiring contract, the rationale being that the team could get some quality return value for a player who they may lose after the season anyway.
However, it wouldn’t seem that the Giants have much to worry about with their right fielder. He’s continually maintained that he does not want to be traded and truly wants to be in San Francisco.
There should not be any budgetary concerns with Pence. The team can take Barry Zito off the books after the season, and if they want to bring him back, they can pay him a salary more indicative of his performance over his run in San Francisco. They have no financial obligations to Tim Lincecum, and the right-hander’s erratic performance over the past two years should make Pence a higher priority.
Though the Giants could definitely use Pence to replenish their depleted farm system, losing him would likely hurt their ability to contend in the immediate future.
Though Pence has endured several extended periods of struggle during his time in the Bay Area, he quite clearly has more natural power than any Giant since Barry Bonds. He’s a great fielder, a hard worker and is as durable as they come, having started every single game in 2013.
And above all, he seems to really be the heart and soul of the team. Pence’s inspired speech when the Giants were facing elimination in last year’s NLDS was a huge component in getting them to the World Series. It would be a shame to get go of a player who is still talented and was such a big part of the best Giants team since the organization moved to San Francisco.
Ultimately, there is no one in the organization who can be trusted to replace Pence. The Giants already have major questions in left field; getting rid of their proven right fielder would just further the issue. Though prospects Francisco Peguero, Gary Brown, Roger Kieschnick, and Juan Perez could be major league-quality players in the near future, none of them is a certainty and each has their fair share of flaws.
Another prospect, Mac Williamson, is widely regarded as a future starter in a corner outfield spot, but he is only in High-A right now and it is just too risky to assume that he will be able to take over a key role any time soon.
Although the Giants might be able to get some nice return value for Pence, it is better just to trust him when he says that he wants to stay in San Francisco.
At least from a leadership standpoint, he was a very important part of their 2012 World Series victory, and it’s reasonable to believe that he could be a productive player once again on a playoff team. Trading Pence would give the indication that the Giants are closing this World Series window and want to rebuild, but it’s not time to do that just yet.