Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE
Giants Get: RF Hunter Pence
Phillies Get: OF Nate Schierholtz, SS Joe Panik (High-A), C/1B Tommy Joseph (Double-A), 3B Conor Gillaspie (Triple-A)
When the Phillies traded away four of their top 30 prospects and three of their top nine for Hunter Pence last year, the immediate reaction was that Pence was the piece needed to bring the Phillies another World Series title. And Pence did his job well. But there's no 2011 Commissioner's Trophy sitting in the Phillies' mantel, and it still leaves a bitter taste in the back of fans' mouths.
In no way is the lack of a World Series Pence's fault. But it makes you wonder whether acquiring him was really worth it in the long run. Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Singleton, Domingo Santana, and Josh Zeid were all dealt to Houston in Ed Wade's final trade with the Phillies as the Astros' GM. All of those prospects could make the barren system better than it is, and all could have been future pieces. Instead, they belong to Houston, and with Pence's contract up after next season yet no solution to it having been settled, it leaves the Phillies in a state of limbo.
Should the team wait on extending Pence after the season, or should he even be extended at all? Should he be retained until he becomes a free agent, or should he be traded now to get the best possible prospect package in return?
Well, in the event that he is traded, Pence would likely bring the team the best possible prospect haul of any player on the team. The fact that he's under contract for 2013 makes him attractive to teams who aren't looking for rental players, since the new CBA prevents teams that acquire impending free agents midseason from receiving draft pick compensation if they're lost in free agency.
A team who could use Hunter Pence is the San Francisco Giants. The Giants, who are looking to maintain their lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers for first place in the NL West, could use an offensive piece like Pence. He'd be the perfect fit.
The Giants do possess one of the top hitters in the majors in Melky Cabrera. But with the so-so Angel Pagan in center and a flux of outfielders in right, the Giants need consistency in right field. Not only would Pence provide that consistency, he's an upgrade over almost any of their other position players, and has hit well at AT&T Park in his career, posting a .329 average with a .932 OPS, five home runs, 10 RBI, and three doubles in only 20 games played there. That's impressive.
In a monster package the Phillies would receive, the player who they'd get to take over right field could be Nate Schierholtz. Although he hasn't formally asked to be dealt, Schierholtz told Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle that he's "ready to move on if another team wants to give him a larger role." With Pence gone in said trade, Schierholtz would immediately take his spot.
As for the prospects, headlining the deal would be catcher Tommy Joseph, the team's second-best prospect. He's able to throw out baserunners with ease and can hit with power all over the diamond. The biggest thing he needs to work on is plate discipline and he isn't too fast, but Joseph, who scouts once thought was headed towards becoming a first baseman, has improved defensively as a catcher to the point that he could stick behind the plate.
Shortstop Joe Panik, the Giants' fourth-best prospect, would also be included in this deal. His bat is what makes him stand out, but he's a very smart all-around player. Although he's overly aggressive at times early in the count, he's a fantastic two-strike hitter and has decent gap power. If he remains for that long, the Giants hope to see him starting in the majors by 2013, except possibly as a second baseman.
Lastly, third base prospect Conor Gillaspie would round out this trade. Gillaspie, ranked as the 13th-best prospect heading into the season, specializes in plate discipline, ranking as the team's best prospect in that regard. He's also an above-average contact hitter and can hit for average with gap power as well. Gillaspie's defense has also significantly improved and he has lowered his errors count every season to date.
This trade could be one that would be fantastic for both parties. The Giants, who need a right-handed bat, get one of the better bats potentially available in Pence at a position they need help with most and for longer than two months. The Phillies get an interim right fielder who's looking for a better opportunity along with a package of quality prospects, including a third baseman who could start for them for 2013. Another win-win trade.