One of the few bright spots in the San Francisco Giants' failure to repeat as World Series champions this year has been the play of outfielder Hunter Pence. His future in the City by the Bay was in question as the 2013 campaign neared its conclusion, but that is no longer the case, as he has agreed to a five-year extension, according to Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News:
The deal is reportedly worth $90 million, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, which means Pence will earn $18 million per year once the contract is signed, sealed and delivered:
While Pence's new contract is pending a physical, the official announcement is expected to be made on Sunday, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports:
Pence was also given a full no-trade clause, via Andrew Baggarly of Comcast Sportsnet.
There is no question that the Giants are in line to surrender a big chunk of change, but the 30-year-old right fielder has proven his worth this season to the tune of a .282 batting average, 26 home runs, 94 RBI and a career-high 22 stolen bases. Pence's WAR of 4.2 is also a career high for him in a season spent with one team, per Baseball-Reference.com.
Despite the Giants' World Series title last season, Pence was somewhat of a disappointment after being acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies in late July 2012. He hit just .219 for San Fran down the stretch, and he hit .210 with one home run and four RBI in 62 postseason at-bats.
Pence returned to his Houston Astros form this season, however, and he was one of the Giants' only consistent offensive forces. With Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Belt already in place, though, the Giants promise to be a much better run-scoring team moving forward.
Pitching was arguably the Giants' main Achilles' heel in 2013, as they rank just 17th in the league with a 3.95 ERA. Starting pitchers such as Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong performed well below expectations, which forced San Francisco's lineup to do more than it has had to in the past.
As long as the pitching improves a little bit next season, Pence and the rest of the Giants' lineup could very well return the team to the playoffs in 2014.
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