Hunter Pence, Giants avoid arbitration with $13.8 million deal

Ezra Shaw

Hunter Pence settled for a one-year, $13.8 million deal on Friday, avoiding arbitration. The Giants hate arbitration, which is an interesting (and admirable? savvy? risk-averse?) organizational philosophy.

If that sounds like a lot of money, well, it is. But it's all a lot of money. If I made the major-league minimum last year, I'd go on sabbatical for three years so I could finish my novel. Which is, rather coincidentally, about Hunter Pence traveling back in time to the Civil War. So we've come full circle.

But this kind of deal was expected for Pence. Matt Swartz at MLB Trade Rumors predicted that exact amount, and I remember the post-trade reports suggesting that Pence was going to get at least $13 million.

Which, again, is a lot of money for someone who looked like he was a fish who was turned into a human through sorcery and handed a bat for the very first time, which made him say "What is this cylindrical stick of wood? Is this for ejecting hermit crabs from their ill-gotten homes? Is this to pry the meat from the shells of delicious periwinkles and conchs? For I am a fish who is now a human, and I have never seen this object before, so oh crap slider swing swing swing dammit, wait, what just happened?"

We watched Pence at his absolute worst, remember. He did not look like a viable bench player last year, much less a middle-of-the-order cog.

As bossman Rob Neyer points out, though, FanGraphs uses WAR to provide approximate values of a player. And over the last three years, Pence was worth the following wins over replacement:

2010: 3.2
2011: 4.7
2012: 1.8

Which, according to the formula, is worth this many bones or clams or whatever you call them:

2010: $12.8 million
2011: $21 million
2012: $8.3 million

And when you average that out, you get $14 million. Which means this just might be the right value for Pence, after all.

Well, I'll be.

I'm still optimistic about Pence in 2013, (probably because of the whole "being good" thing that he did for several years before last season), and I'm not put out by the money because of this simple reason: It's not a five-year deal. It's not a four-year deal. It's not a three-year deal (though I'd be kind of open to that). It's a one-year deal for a little too much. And when you crunch the numbers, it might not be too much at all.

Now is the part of the program where we post a Hunter Pence picture.

Screen_shot_2012-10-19_at_7

There we go.

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