Pittsburgh Pirates Trade Rumors: Hunter Pence


Jul 20, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence (8) hits a single during the fourth inning in a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at AT

Could Hunter Pence finally be on his way to Pittsburgh? It seems like every year Pence is on the trade market, and every year Pirates fans clamor for him. In 2011, the Pence was traded from the Astros to the Phillies for 4 minor league players. The Phillies went on to have the best record in baseball before being eliminated by the Cardinals in the first round of the playoffs. Last summer, Pence was shipped from Philadelphia to San Francisco in exchange for Nate Schierholtz (another possible trade target) and 2 prospects. Now, it looks like the Giants will field calls on the 2-time All Star.

While not having a season like he did in 2011, Pence is still putting up solid numbers and is getting better. This season Pence has a .277 avg with 14 homers, 51 RBI, and an .800 OPS. Those numbers would place him in the top 3 of almost every major statistic for the Pirates’ batting order. Pence is also a force on defense, with a UZR of 7.6. That number is only slightly below Starling Marte’s, and above Gold-Glover Andrew McCutchen’s, meaning Pence would only add to one of the best defenses in the league.

Aside from his obvious skill set, Pence could bring another positive veteran presence for the young Bucs. Unlike Alex Rios, Pence has never been accused of taking plays off. Pence gives 100% on every play and is a vocal leader.  Despite not playing great for the Giants after being traded, he was seen as a true leader in the dugout and clubhouse and continued to inspire the eventual world champions. A proven presence like his could only help a young team desperately fighting against the claims that they’ll eventually collapse.

Jun 13, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence (8) makes a running catch in the outfield against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the third inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

I have been wanting to see Pence in the lineup since 2011. His right-handed stick is a perfect fit. That, along with his defense/cannon for an arm, would make the Pirates’ outfield one of the best in the league. Imagine this lineup:

  1. Marte LF
  2. Walker 2B
  3. McCutchen CF
  4. Alvarez 3B
  5. Pence RF
  6. Martin C
  7. Jones 1B
  8. Mercer SS

That is an extremely dangerous lineup with an average OPS of .773. Right now the Pirates’ third best OPS is Marte, who sports a .774. That is the kind of instant spark Pence can provide. Statistically PNC is also one of Hunter Pence’s favorite ballparks. In 57 at bats over the last three years, Pence posts a .421 average with 7 extra base hits., a .649 slugging percentage, and an outrageous 1.109 OPS. With speculation of another Tabata injury it’s time to upgrade in right field. Pence has been known to be a streaky hitter, and after going 10-16 in his last 4 games – including a 5-5 night against the hated Reds – he looks like he is turning a very hot corner.

Pence is a free agent at the end of the year, so he is considered a rental. However, Pence says he’d like to sign a contract rather than testing the free agency market, so there’s a chance he might stay in Pittsburgh if acquired. The fact that Pence is a free agent also makes him cheaper and more accessible. He wouldn’t come cheap, but he also wouldn’t cost a top prospect. A pitcher such as Nick Kingham or Clay Holmes should get it done, especially if the Giants continue to struggle.

I have always been a huge fan of Hunter Pence. He plays the game the right way, and hustles every second of every game. His vocal leadership would be a great addition and add to an already great team chemistry. He’s a player who has made it all the way through the playoffs and could help these Pirates get over the hump. Best of all, Pence wouldn’t break the bank and would keep the Pirates’ future secure. Like the last three years, I’m making a push for Huntington to pull the trigger on Pence. Please don’t let me down again.