Hunter Pence is in the top-three of nearly every significant offensive statistical category for the San Francisco Giants this season, and it is not far fetched to start thinking about re-signing the 30-year-old.
Pence was a large part of the Giants 2012 World Series title, even though he hit just .210 with four RBI in last year’s postseason. His pregame speeches were legendary in themselves, and although his plate appearances were nothing to pay the player for, it was what he did in the clubhouse that led San Francisco to their second World Series title in three years.
His plate appearances this season, however, have picked up production. He is batting .279 with seven home runs and 21 RBI through 35 games.
After being acquired by the Giants during last year’s trade deadline, Pence is scheduled to become a free agent at the end of this season. His numbers early in the season have been impressive, as he leads the team in home runs and is just three RBI behind Pablo Sandoval for the team lead.
Pence is now producing like everyone thought he would, despite a disappointing effort from him on the field last postseason. He is on pace for over 30 home runs and 100 RBI, and he is much more of the player the entire MLB has come to know.
Is it too early to re-sign him, though?
It was about this time last season that Melky Cabrera, whose numbers turned out to be fraudulent, was starting to rack-up large numbers, and re-signing him suddenly turned into an in-season priority.
While Pence’s numbers this season are not as gaudy as Cabrera's last season, Pence seems to fit well in San Francisco, and the Giants cannot afford to lose anymore firepower in the middle of their lineup.
With Brandon Belt going through stretches of struggles and injuries to Marco Scutaro and Angel Pagan suddenly becoming issues, Pence may be a logical option to re-sign sooner rather than later.
The situation does remind some of Pagan last season. His surprise success at the top of the batting order made him an essential piece of the Giants World Series puzzle, but it was not until the offseason that San Francisco decided to offer the free agent a deal.
With the Giants outfield talent in the farm system becoming less than MLB-ready these days, San Francisco may have no choice but to re-sign Pence.
Pagan and Pence will also likely have similar salaries in common, as well. Pagan signed a deal with the Giants for four years and $40 million in December 2012, and one month later Pence avoided arbitration with the Giants for $13.8 million.
Pence has reportedly already said he wants to sign a long-term deal with the Giants (per @JimBowdenESPNxm), and a contract for three or four years seems doable, given their situation in the farm system at the moment.
It is much more about need than want in the Giants re-signing Pence. He is the threat in the middle of the lineup that complements Buster Posey with consistent production. He may not break the bank for the type of numbers the team will get in return, either.
While it is too early to re-sign Pence, waiting until the end of the season could result in the loss of a critical part of the Giants' success and leave a big hole in right field.
Follow me on Twitter @ScottSemmler22