Hunter Pence is in the last year of his contract with the Giants. He is an actual Forever Giant (accept no substitutes) and most fans would like to see him end his career in San Francisco. This presents two options. Either he announces his retirement at the end of this season or he comes back next season in some capacity.
Though it would be pretty late notice, Pence could still decide to retire at the end of this season, given the way it has gone for him personally, but I don’t know if he will.
Retiring after the 2018 season may feel like a relief in a way, but it probably wouldn’t feel very fulfilling to any player on this year’s team. Even a player who already has all of the achievements Pence has.
Though they are unlikely to finish with a worse record than last season, the team is on pace to lose almost every game in the month of September and that’s not really a fun way to say goodbye to your fans and the sport you love.
Though Matt Cain retired at the end of the somewhat equally awful 2017 season at the age of 33, not every player would be ready to walk away from the game without giving it one more try (or a few unsuccessful tries, in Tim Lincecum’s case).
Pence has a competitive spirit and might not be ready to hang it up just yet. So he may be interested in giving it another go elsewhere next season, though I don’t know what options he would find in the free agent market.
The Giants could always sign him to minor league deal and he could eventually come up and have a farewell tour, of sorts.
Now I know what some of you are saying, you want the Giants to play the younger guys and go for a rebuild, and if Pence is in the organization in any capacity in 2019 that they will play him. To that I say: of course they will. If the team is in tank/rebuild mode next season, what does it hurt? And it would be a draw for fans looking to say goodbye.
There’s a line to be walked between being overly nostalgic and overly jaded. Many can recognize Pence’s accomplishments and what he brought to this team while also recognizing that he might not have it anymore. But unless the Giants find a way to do a complete overhaul in the off-season, next year is likely not going to be much better than the previous two.
So a farewell tour would at least sell some of the seats while giving Pence the opportunity to leave it all on the field where he had his biggest moments in front of the fans that still adore him.