The San Francisco Giants‘ table-setter hasn’t played in a game since June 15 and doesn’t appear to be on the verge of returning to the everyday lineup anytime soon. Angel Pagan is a catalyst for the Giants, but has become so outrageously prone to injury that the team must pursue a viable backup option at the conclusion of the 2014 season, if not at the non-waiver trade deadline.
Pagan has combined to play in just 134 games for the Giants over the past two seasons. The nine-year veteran has surpassed the 150-game marker just twice in his career. It’s now evident that he likely never will again.
The Giants are a much more complete ball club with Pagan patrolling center field. He plays excellent defense and covers a ton of ground. He owns a superb .993 fielding percentage in more than 507 innings of defensive action this season, committing just one error in the process.
Pagan’s offensive skill set appropriately complements his prowess in the outfield. He was previously on pace to post a career-high batting line before succumbing to a bulging disk in his lower back, an injury that has sidelined him for more than five weeks. Pagan’s .307 batting average was the best the Giants had to offer before his injury. He totaled 74 hits with 37 runs scored and 19 RBI in 63 games out of the top slot of the order.
As the season wares on, the likelihood of Pagan having surgery to improve the condition of his back will increase. It will also decrease the chance of him reasserting himself as an everyday player when and if he’s able to reclaim a spot on the active roster.
The Giants are familiar with back injuries. Projected starting second baseman Marco Scutaro has missed most of the 2014 MLB season with nagging back pain and is frequently unavailable to play, a relative concern in regard to Pagan’s lingering status.
The Giants’ high-energy leadoff hitter is currently in the second season of a four-year contract. He’s scheduled to make $9 million next season and $10 million in 2016. The money isn’t necessarily the issue with Pagan. It’s the fact that he can’t stay on the field, a reality that isn’t going to improve as Pagan continues to age.
The Giants could be forced to seek out a starting-caliber center fielder over the offseason in order to severely decrease the chances of another inevitable Pagan injury from crippling the top half of the team’s lineup. For the Giants, this scenario isn’t ideal, but it’s a problem that must be addressed at some point in the near future.