Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Giants' Deal For Pence: Hasty, Expensive, Worse Than Ethier

Five years, one Pence.

The Giants' recent deal to pick up Hunter Pence to a long-term deal was not only panned by ESPN.com's Dan Szymborski, but also drew unfavorable comparisons relative to the less-expensive five-year contract paid by the Dodgers to Andre Ethier (link insider only):

The offseason has apparently started early this year, with the San Francisco Giants and Hunter Pence reportedly agreeing on a five-year, $90 million contract extension on his current contract, which expires after this season. By signing Pence now, the Giants know who their starting right fielder is through the end of the 2018 season. But is it a good idea?

The natural comparison for a Pence contract is the one that Andre Ethier signed in June 2012, a five-year, $85 million contract. But as parents around the world have informed their teenage children for generations, just because someone jumps off a bridge doesn't mean you should do it too. In fact, some of the same concerns about the Ethier contract apply here.

Like the right fielder for the archnemesis Dodgers, Pence has been a solid starter with a couple of seasons that have edged near the border of stardom. The exact year-by-year breakdown of Pence's contract isn't available yet, but at an average of $18 million a year, the Giants are paying more for past performance than expected future performance. Even with a win on the free-agent market expected to be at or slightly above the $5 million mark, Pence is going to have to be worth 16 wins above replacement level over the next five seasons to hit the fair market price for the Giants.

During his past five years, his age 26-30 seasons, if you average the WAR from Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs, you get 15.8 WAR for Pence. If he can reproduce his last five years over his age 31-35 seasons, the Giants will have paid Pence a fair value based on what free agents typically get.

Problem is, for a good-but-not-great player, performance after 30 doesn't typically match performance from his prime years. Pence will have up and down years, but the smart money is an expected decline. In a park that will punish Pence severely if he loses any power, it's a difficult contract to justify.

The ZiPS projection system is perhaps even more negative than I am, projecting only 9.5 WAR from Pence over his next five seasons, most of that value coming in the next 2-3 years.

Next up for a Giants long-term contract: Tim Lincecum.

6 comments:

Fred's Brim said...

Well they had to spend that Barry Zito somewhere

Fred's Brim said...

^ Barry Zito MONEY somewhere

ferchrissakes is it Thursday yet?

Dusty Baker said...

We get to see this bug-eyed freak 18 times a year in his declining years.

George Smith said...

Sax(Giant fan), and we give a fuck WHY, only you
Care about the giants.

Paul said...

Too bad Ned wanted to convert him to second base.

Dusty Baker said...

Sax is for sure the biggest giants fan I've ever known. He should just go start a giants blog and report this news on that blog.