The Giants’ starting left fielder, Jarrett Parker, is going to miss most of the season after breaking his clavicle on Saturday. As such, the Giants will need a new starting left fielder. None of the options are especially appealing.
Michael Morse is just starting a rehab assignment, and no knows just how he’ll hit in the majors after a year off. Mac Williamson isn’t returning soon. Jae-gyun Hwang is only beginning to play in the outfield, and Steven Duggar is hurt. Orlando Calixte is the only other outfielder on the 40-man roster, and he’s off to a slow start. Melvin Upton and Drew Stubbs have been bad at baseball in the recent past. This all means the job is Chris Marrero’s for the near future, unless Gorkys Hernandez and Aaron Hill sneak in a few starts.
Which means there’s a chorus coming from the back of the room, and it’s getting louder.
What about Angel Pagan?
The Giants should sign Angel Pagan!
On one hand, it makes sense. Pagan was a key member of the 2012 championship team, and he played with the Giants for five years. He tackled a field stormer, got the last walk-off, come-from-behind homer in franchise history*, and smoldered around the baseball field. He has fans around here, and he’s still a free agent.
He also wasn’t too shabby last year, hitting .277/.331/.418, which is good for a 100 OPS+ at AT&T Park — perfectly average. He’s had two straight seasons with more than 500 plate appearances, so it’s probably easy to blow his injury concerns out of proportion. A league-average hitter in left field sounds like a rare, covetable player to me.
However, it’s probably not going to happen. There are a few reasons why.
Pagan wants starting money
This isn’t a situation like Morse, where the veteran is willing to play for the league minimum because he can’t imagine retiring. No, it sounds like Pagan wants to make a comeback worth his while. As Andrew Baggarly notes, he has a young family he can spend time with, and enough money to never work again. I’m not sure if $800,000 and the love of the game would be enough for me to spend six months away from my family if I’d made $51 million in my career. Heck, give me $400 in Amazon gift cards, and I’ll stop writing right now.
What this means is that if the Giants want Pagan, they’ll have to pay him millions plus the luxury tax penalty. That means this would be their big mid-season upgrade. The trade deadline would be rather dull because there wouldn’t be anyone affordable. That wouldn’t be so bad if Pagan were likely to be as productive as he was in 2012, but ...
Pagan is 35 and likely to get worse
Last year, Pagan was worth a win above replacement, according to Baseball-Reference. That’s not bad! It’s not wise to sneeze at a win, especially when you remember the Giants might be stuck with actual replacement players.
However, the .277/.331/.418 line is probably just about his peak performance at this age. ZiPS has him projected at .268/.315/.368, which is a healthy step down. While I wouldn’t be surprised if Chris Marrero couldn’t come close to those numbers, I also wouldn’t be surprised if he surpassed them easily. And I wouldn’t want the Giants to pay $4 million to find out if Pagan is better than that projection.
His projected WAR is just 0.4, and that’s because ...
Pagan’s defense is dreadful, even in left field
According to dWAR, Pagan was worth -1.2 wins in the field, which was a problem, considering his oWAR was 1.6. His baserunning helped make up some ground, but I don’t think y’all are remembering just how shaky he looked out there.
He’s a year older now, and he has post-WBC rust. I’d rather stick with Marrero and chase dingers if the Giants are comfortable punting defense.
Pagan is something of an odd duck
I’ll put this delicately because it relies on secondhand information, but I don’t believe there are a lot of Giants players, coaches, or executives who would be constantly looking for Pagan around the clubhouse because they thought of a funny story they just had to tell him. I’ve talked to multiple people in and around the organization who laughed at this suggestion:
Angel Pagan is expected to make a decision in the next 48 hours on where he is going to sign with Toronto, SF, Padres, Atlanta and Tigers all having expressed interest. Pagan(‘s) WBC performance certainly helped his value.
There wasn’t any interest expressed by the team because I’m not sure the organization misses him. Here, you don’t have to take my word for it. From that Baggarly article linked up there:
But suffice it to say that he wore out his welcome both in the Giants clubhouse and front office long before he came to the end of his four-year contract here.
I’m not going to pretend that I’m Johnny Eartotheground when it comes to the inner workings of the Giants’ clubhouse, but I’ve heard this for years from multiple people. Pagan was somewhere between tolerated and liked, which isn’t a normal spectrum for players to be measured on.
Add it all up, and while I will always be a fan of Pagan for his contributions in 2012, among other highlights, I’d much rather the Giants stuck with Marrero or called up Austin Slater. Or, more realistically, get Mac Williamson healthy again and back in the lineup. There are a lot of different options the Giants can choose, and while none of them are especially exciting, they won’t cost a lot of money and a piece of Bruce Bochy’s sanity.
If they can’t figure it out by July, they’ll have to spend some of their prospect capital. But if they have to do that, at least they can save their money now. Even with a spot open, I’m pretty sure the Giants aren’t interested in Angel Pagan. They probably shouldn’t be.
* no, I mean the last one ever, that was it