Giants DFA Pence, deal for IF Robertson

August 23rd, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO -- ’s second stint with the Giants came to an unceremonious and abrupt end on Sunday.

Pence was designated for assignment to clear roster spots for infielder , who was acquired from the Rays in exchange for cash considerations or a player to be named later, and reliever , who was activated off the injured list. Robertson reported to the Giants’ alternate training site in Sacramento.

Pence, 37, reunited with the Giants on a one-year, $3 million deal following his 2019 All-Star campaign with the Rangers, but he never worked out of his early season slump, going 5-for-52 (.096) with two home runs over 17 games this year. San Francisco targeted Pence due to his ability to crush lefties, but the veteran slugger recorded only three hits in 28 at-bats against them.

Pence started only two games in his final week with the Giants, who saw right-handed-hitters like Wilmer Flores and Austin Slater emerge as more productive options against left-handed pitching. With San Francisco in the midst of a season-high five-game win streak, the club felt it could no longer afford to give Pence more time to find his footing at the plate.

“Perhaps the most difficult part of the job is telling a meaningful member of the Giants family that he’s not going to be on our roster going forward,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “Very difficult conversation last night. Hunter has meant so much to the Giants and to this community and to this team as well. He’s been really impactful, not just on the field, but in terms of support of his teammates and support of this new coaching staff, dating back to the original Spring Training. Certainly a tough conversation.”

Originally acquired in a midseason trade with the Phillies eight years ago, Pence became a fan favorite after helping the Giants win World Series titles in 2012 and '14. His tenure in San Francisco appeared over after his contract expired at the end of the 2018 season, but Pence felt he still had more to give.

He committed himself to reworking his swing with hitting guru Doug Latta that offseason and then headed to the Dominican Republic to play winter ball and showcase the changes to Major League clubs. He eventually caught on with the Rangers and turned back the clock with his hometown team, batting .297 with a .910 OPS and 18 home runs in 2019. 

Pence struggled to replicate that success in his second tour with the Giants, but he earned consistent praise from Kapler and his teammates for his positive attitude, unyielding work ethic and the boundless energy he brought to the clubhouse.

“He could not have handled that conversation any more professionally,” Kapler said. “He actually came with a lot of gratitude. He said thank you to everybody in the clubhouse and the front office, ownership. He came across as super grateful. That’s who Hunter is. It's interesting. Through some of these struggles, he's never lost his positive outlook. He's never lost the energy in the clubhouse. I think his teammates and the coaching staff have really appreciated that.” 

Robertson, 26, became available after he was DFA'd by the Rays last week. He has ties to Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, who was a member of the A’s front office when they selected Robertson in the first round of the 2012 MLB Draft. A versatile infielder who can play shortstop and second and third base, Robertson posted a .692 OPS with 16 home runs over 236 games with the Rays from '17-19. He has not appeared in the Majors this year.

“We’ve all been following him for several years,” Kapler said. “2018 was a fantastic year for him, 2019 there were some struggles, but he has the ability to play shortstop. That’s important for us.” 

Coonrod, 27, missed three weeks with a right lat strain and will now return to give the Giants more right-handed depth out of the bullpen. San Francisco has only four right-handed relievers (Coonrod, Trevor Gott, Shaun Anderson and Tyler Rogers) on its 28-man roster, compared to six lefties (Tony Watson, Jarlín García, Wandy Peralta, Sam Selman, Andrew Suárez and Caleb Baragar).

When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster, and 28-man roster if he was on that as well. Within seven days of the transaction (it was previously 10 days), the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.