Giants, fan-favorite Pence reunited on 1-yr deal

February 8th, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO -- Less than a week after re-signing Pablo Sandoval, the Giants are bringing back yet another fan favorite.

Outfielder is reuniting with the Giants on a one-year deal worth $3 million that includes up to $2.25 million in performance bonuses, the club announced on Friday night.

Right-hander Luis Madero, who was claimed off waivers from the Angels last month, was outrighted to Triple-A Sacramento to clear a spot on the 40-man roster, though he will still be in big league camp as a non-roster invitee this spring.

Pence, who will turn 37 in April, won the 2012 and ‘14 World Series with the Giants, though his tenure in San Francisco appeared to come to an end after his contract expired following the '18 season. He spent that winter revamping his swing in the Dominican Winter League, efforts that helped him land a Minor League deal with his hometown Rangers last year.

“He’s one of the best teammates that anyone will ever have,” Buster Posey said on Friday. “His enthusiasm for baseball is contagious. I know we’ll all be excited to welcome him back. I know his season was cut short a little bit last year from injuries, but he was putting up some big numbers before then, so I’m interested to just pick his brain and see what adjustments he made.”

Pence enjoyed a resurgent season in Texas, hitting .297 with 18 homers and a .910 OPS while primarily serving as a designated hitter. Pence earned his first All-Star nod since 2014 and was named the Sporting News’ American League Comeback Player of the Year, though he was limited to only 83 games due to a strained right groin and a lower back strain.

“We’re excited to welcome Hunter back to the organization,” said Giants president of baseball operations, Farhan Zaidi. “He provides our club with a great veteran presence and his leadership will be a big asset for our younger players. Hunter’s addition creates depth on our roster and will provide Gabe [Kapler] with a valuable option against left-handed pitching.”

Known for his unrelenting positivity and energy, Pence brings years of experience to the clubhouse and gives the Giants a big right-handed bat off the bench. He crushed left-handed pitching last year, batting .327 with a 1.015 OPS over 119 plate appearances against southpaws.

Zaidi said Thursday that he expected the Giants to add one or two complementary pieces to his outfield before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on Tuesday, and he accomplished that goal with the signing of Pence and speedy outfielder Billy Hamilton, who joined the organization on a Minor League deal along with old friend Nick Vincent on Friday.  

Zaidi said he preferred to target players like Pence and Hamilton rather than an everyday option to leave plenty of opportunities for some of the younger outfielders in the organization. 

"I think we're still evaluating potential additions there, but that's really the question and the challenge, leaving some opportunity for that group of players between Austin Slater, Jaylin Davis, Steven Duggar," Zaidi said. "So that may push us toward maybe not a 150-game everyday guy, but maybe somebody who can be part of a rotation where there's still some playing time up for grabs for some of those younger guys."