Mariners Offseason Priorities: Signing Hunter Pence


Sep 14, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence (8) hits a single RBI against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Over the next couple of weeks a large number of my posts will venture from this MOP initiative– MOP standing for Mariners Offseason Priorities, but also doubling as a ‘clean-up’ as the season ends near, looking forward to a time (2014 and beyond) when the MOPs can hopefully be considerably smaller. Also note: these MOPs will not be hashed out in any particular order… unless you consider the spontaneous thoughts that pop into my head order. But that is neither here or there.

Let’s talk about baseball… and my first MOP (remember! they are not in any order of importance): Signing Hunter Pence.

Granted, over the last two weeks Pence has been on an absolute tear… but prior to that he was on my radar (I promise I’m not just saying that to sound wise or anything dumb like that). There are really three reasons why I want Hunter Pence on the Mariners squad next season:

1) He is a gamer who will give us 150 games in right field next season, without needing significant time off.

2) He is affordable (I’ll expand in a minute, but I would be willing to go as far as a 3 yr/$42 million with a 4th year mutual option).

3) He should be available without an absurd level of interest/salary wars.

Numero uno (that’s Spanish for number one): He is a gamer.

Sure, he looks a little goofy when he swings the bat, but look at the numbers… because let’s be honest the numbers say everything:

2013: Triple Slash: .293/.345/.497. 25 Home Runs. 92 RBIs. 46 BBs. 101 SOs. 21 Stolen Bases.

Those are pretty solid numbers for a right fielder who is also competent in the field. And those numbers are consistent with most of his career too. Look at his career stats:

Career: 1044 Games Played. TS: .287/.340/.478. 163 HRs. 608 RBIs. 608 BBs. 802 SOs. 88 Stolen Bases.

Those numbers for almost 7 years of experience look pretty darn good to me. What? You say: “Charlie I am not convinced by your numerical witchcraft. Showing us his numbers standing alone means nothing to us. WE WANT MORE!”

Fine, fellow Mariners fans (and baseball fans in general), here comes the painstaking comparison of Pence’s numbers this season to EVERY SINGLE Mariner who played in the outfield this year… or at least all the ones I can remember. Granted, I know that guys like Ackley have played games elsewhere; but for the sake of my sanity we will just include all games he has played this season. And for guys like Morse, who is no longer on the team, who also played DH, those numbers are included.

Prepare to be overwhelmed with numbers– and depressed by how the Mariners’ numbers pale in comparison to the Almighty Hunter Pence:

Pence: 150 GP. TS: .293/.345/.497. 25 HRs. 92 RBIs. 46 BBs. 101 SOs. 21 Stolen Bases.

Morse: 86 GP.  TS: .218/.272/.388. 13 HRs. 27 RBIs. 20 BBs. 85 SOs. 0 SB.

Saunders: 121 GP. TS: .235/.321/.383. 10 HRs. 40 RBIs. 49 BBs. 107 SOs. 12 SB.

Chavez: 93 GP.   TS: .269/.292/.330. 2 HRs.  14 RBIs. 9 BBs. 31 SOs. 1 SB.

Ackley: 105 GP. TS: .256/..319/.341. 3 HRs. 27 RBIs. 32 BBs. 64 SOs. 2 SB.

Ibanez: 116 GP. TS: .252/.313/.506. 28 HRs. 63 RBIs. 38 BBs. 118 SOs. 0 SB.

Bay: 68 GP.  TS: .204/.298/.393.  11 HRs.  20 RBIs. 26 BBs. 62 SOs. 3 SB.

Guti: 34 GP.  TS: .250/.268/.475. 7 HRs. 21 RBIs. 3 BBs.  33 SOs. 2 SB.

I am going to omit Almonte right now, and also Peguero… if I missed anybody else forgive me– that alone should be an indication of the carousel that has been the Mariners outfield this season.

Looking at all those numbers I take away a few things I want to make sure you are aware of: Pence has played more games this season than ANY Mariner, not just the outfielders (Seager is the highest with 149 GP). He has more stolen bases than every single one of these outfielders combined (granted, the M’s don’t run at all). Ibanez is the only one with more HRs, and Pence crushes everyone else in RBIs. Also, though the numbers don’t tell me this– I am just psychic– almost everyone on this list save Franklin Gutierrez is a pretty average outfielder defensively (although Saunders is pretty good, and Ackley is on the rise).

When it comes to Pence’s price and teams’ level of interest, that is where the abstract seems to come in. Obviously the Giants are going to make a hard push to resign him. Why wouldn’t they? But, with the new money that the Mariners will have lying around from the TV deal, there will be some negotiating to be done. And like Morales hopefully notices with the M’s this offseason (he will be a MOP post in the near future), Pence should see that this is a team on the rise where he could be a part of something fun and something special.

However, he is on the wrong side of 30. And has played for a team with good hitters surrounding him. Regardless, I think giving him 13 or 14 million a year for three years wouldn’t be a terrible investment. We are paying Guti $7 million this year, and you have to figure Pence is worth double that. But I don’t feel comfortable paying him much more than that. And in the end, if he ends up batting .280/.320/.450 (which would all be below his career averages) for those three seasons, he would be our best outfielder since Ichiro was traded.

And that really isn’t so bad, is it?