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July 31, 2013

The Great Trade Game

Hunter Pence

by Paul Sporer


(Check out Monday’s Jake Peavy exercise for background on what we’re doing here.)

Hi, I’m Brian Sabean, you may remember me from winning two of the last three World Series titles with my San Francisco Giants ballclub. We’re having a tough time defending our title here in the Bay Area as we sit in last place with a 46-59 record. I usually love this time of year as I pore over the rosters to find that perfect veteran asset to turn ouir club from contender to champion, as I did with Javier Lopez in 2010 and Marco Scutaro a year ago. But I’m not an idiot, and it has become abundantly clear to me that it is not going to be our year.

Hunter Pence’s 2012 contribution to the team can’t be measured by simply looking at his .671 OPS or even his .521 playoff OPS. The team unity he instilled across the 25-man roster showed up in Scooty’s .362 batting average after the trade, in Busty’s .385 second-half batting average, and in Cainy’s 7-2 record after the break. The unfortunate thing about this whole situation is that Pence is having a spectacular year for us and may damn near wind up with 25 home runs and 25 stolen bases, the former matching a career high and the latter establishing one.

I recently made it known to my 29 colleagues and friends that his services would be available and the best offer would be accepted. Several of the top contenders responded through various forms of communication and I will share those offers with you now.

Here’s your cast:

***

Letter received from:

Neal Huntington

115 Federal St.

Pittsburgh, PA 15212

Sabes,

First thing I want you to do is imagine a scene. It's Game 162. Giants and Dodgers are playing for the division. Your left-handed no. 5 hitter steps up, two men on, scoreless tie in the eighth. Hits it deep into the cove, and as he trots down the first-base line he gives a little salute to the visiting dugout. Oh, does it ever burn for those boys in blue to see what Andrew Lambo has become, a 30-HR hitter in the middle of your lineup.

They traded him for Octavio Dotel, a reliever who lasted all of a month and a half during the Dodgers' fourth-place 2010 season, and immediately knew it was a mistake. But then he stalled, and they started to get smug, like they knew what they were doing all alone. Well he's back. He's slugging .586 in Triple-A, after torching the Eastern League, and he's got a real shot at winning the minor league home run crown this year. You've got Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres playing corner outfield for you. Lambo makes your lineup better the day you acquire him.

So now you're up 3-0, and Bochy's got a bit more breathing room, so he sends his 21-year-old phenom back out to pitch the ninth. Luis Heredia shuts 'em down, 1-2-3, clinches the Rookie of the Year award, and guarantees you the 2016 pennant. You're looking at all these offers rolling in right now, and you have to admit it: there's not a single name with more upside than Luis Heredia has. I know, I know, young pitchers, but you've seen how special a young pitcher can be when he has this kind of arm and gets to grow under your org's tutelage. This is how you're going to win the third World Series, Sabean.

So here's the offer. You get Heredia, Lambo and Tony Watson. I get Hunter Pence and Javier Lopez. You're going to feel emotional for about 40 minutes. Then you're going to have a drink, have an ice cream sandwich, and it's going to sink in how much better your club's future looks for the next decade.

-Neal.

(By the way, don't even bother asking for Kingham, Herrera or Glasnow in any counteroffers. You won't believe what my interns did when we left them in the office overnight...)

Reply sent to:

AT&T Park

24 Willie Mays Plaza

San Francisco, CA 94107

Hunty,

I didn’t expect you to come with one of the big arms or to send a handwritten letter to be honest, but it’s a very enticing offer. Heredia has an amazing amount of potential, but I have hemorrhoids older than him and I feel like we are still in the throes of our contending window, even with Timmy and Barry (don’t think we’re scoopin’ that 18 million dollar option, but keep that on the low-down as the kids say hehe) departing after this season. Something around Taillon would’ve spurred my interest a bit more, even if it wouldn’t have included Lambo, as I see Taillon contributing to a big-league club in 2014. I hope I put enough stamps on this.

-Sabes

(Sorry to hear about Glasnow & Co. I saw Brian Kenny tearing you apart on MLB Network over that one. Hopefully Peavy goes Randy Johnson circa ’98 on everyone to divert the attention.)

***

Snapchat received from Cherington, Ben (617-288-6495)

Here is my offer: Hunter Pence comes to Beantown and in return I will send you Deven Marrero, Anthony Ranaudo, and Travis Sh..

Snapchat sent from Sabean, Brian (415-622-7103)

The damn thing disappeared before I could write all of the names down, I think that last one was Travis Sh...

Snapchat sent from Sabean, Brian (415-622-7103)

Dammit! Travis Shaw! Anyway, I was thinking about the deal and…

Snapchat sent from Sabean, Brian (415-622-7103)

This medium is not conducive to get trade talks done in a thorough mann…

Snapchat sent from Sabean, Brian (415-622-7103)

This is absolutely ridiculo…

Snapchat sent from Sabean, Brian (415-622-7103)

I hate you.

***

From: Dan Duquette

To: Brian Sabean

Date: Tue, Jul 30, 2013 at 12:08 AM

Subject: Hunter Pence None the Richer?

Here's my offer for Hunter Pence from the Orioles:

Henry Urrutia, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Zach Britton for Hunter Pence.

Let's face it, the upper levels of the Giants' system doesn't have a ton of strong pieces in it. In Urrutia, you get a Pence replacement and someone who can step right in and contribute at the major-league level.

Rodriguez has above-average stuff from the left side and made it to Double-A as a 20-year old. He could be a great fit behind Cain and Bumgarner long term in the rotation. And then there's Zach Britton, who has a ton of talent but hasn't quite put it all together yet. Still a very intriguing arm with upside and just 25 years old.

Thanks!

Dan

From: Brian Sabean

To: Dan Duquette

Date: Tue, Jul 30, 2013 at 8:29 PM

Subject: RE: Hunter Pence None the Richer?

I’m going to pretend you didn’t reference this with your email title and focus on this rather strong offer.

Britton is someone we can work with and Urrutia has had a nice year for you guys. Twenty-six years old already? Not bad! I like someone who’s got some experience.

I’ll be in touch if we’ve got a deal locked down,

Sabes

***

Text from Jon Daniels (214-445-0192)

Engel Beltre and Hanser Alberto for Pence

The possible Nelson Cruz season-ending suspension necessitates us making an offer, but at the same time we're in a weird spot where it doesn't make sense to go all-in for a rental. This is Jon Daniels in case you don’t have my number in your phone.

Text sent by Brian Sabean (415-622-7103)

I completely understand your predicament, but I wanted to make sure y’all were aware that we were selling Pince. We’re really looking for some pitching. We were high on that Edwards fella ya sent over to the Cubbies. I’ll tlak with guys about these hitters and get bcak to you soon. Pardon any typoes, I’m at lunch with my wife and it’s supposed ot be no phones time.

***

Fax received from Moore, Dayton (314-503-7728)

Dear Mr. Sabean:

Thanks for allowing me to bid in the Hunter Pence sweepstakes. I've given the matter a lot of thought and have come up with an offer that I think fits the best needs of both of our organizations.

I propose that you would send us Hunter Pence and the entirety of the 5 million or so left on his contract for this year. And in return, we would send you RHP Jason Adam. He's the sort of solid-but-unspectacular starting pitching prospect whose main function will be to eat innings, something that always comes in handy. Mostly, I'm just sending you salary relief.

I'm banking on the thought that you feel that your window for contention is now. You've talked a good game about wanting to offer Pence a qualifying offer and getting a supplemental first rounder if he walks, but I'm thinking that might be a bluff. Sure, you'll get some extra pool money to spend on draftees, but they won't be ready for another 2-3 years at the earliest. Adam is much closer than that. Meanwhile, the salary relief is extra pocket money to spend in the free agent market for this winter -- when your real window is.

On my end, Hunter Pence would be replacing David Lough in right field, and while Pence is an upgrade and has a longer track record than Lough at doing this, it's probably on the order of one win over the rest of the season if Pence works out well. In some sense, I'm more just locking in with more certainty what I think David Lough might already be.

You might get a better offer, but in all honesty, we're a team that's bobbing around .500 and while we're a few games out of the second wild card, we've got three teams in front of us. In fact, BP's playoff odds have us with around a 1 in 50 chance of making it to October. It might make sense for another team to actually dip deeper into its pool of prospects for an extra win and I did push in a lot of chips already on this year, but I don't think I should overplay this hand.

Anyway, looking forward to hearing back from you. (By the way, do you mind if we make the fact that we were "in" on Pence really public?)

peace, love, happiness, banana pudding,

Dayton Moore

eFax sent from sabes@giants.com

Dayton,

My kids were cracking up at you sending a fax. Classic Dayton! Trusting the process as always. You know I’m cool with you leaking the discussion, but don’t invite me to the Facebook Group “KC very much in on Hunter Pence trade talks for 2013”, it’ll look weird. I’ve gotten a handful of decent reports on Adam and there’s something there, but maybe we’re a fit for something else either bigger with Pence or altogether different. Maybe something with Timmy? Was that the Bruce Chen that y’all started in Chicago the other day? Almost dealt for him in 2000.

Sabes

***

From: Chris Antonetti
To: Brian Sabean

July 30, 8:16 p.m.

Indians trade: SP Trevor Bauer, OF Tyler Naquin, SS Ronny Rodriguez

Giants trade: RF Hunter Pence and RP Javier Lopez

Reasoning: Look man, the Giants need to rebuild. You know that Sabez. Here is a top of the rotation starter! I'm just handing it to you. Take him... please. Seriously though he's a huge talent and a guy that can step in your rotation right now. Can't go wrong. Add to that a pair or legitimate position prospects in Naquin and Rodriguez, you can't lose in this deal. I have all the risk here.

Remember, I have all the risk here. Accept the deal.

From: Brian Sabean
To: Chris Antonetti

July 30, 10:24 p.m.

Any chance you can promise me that this unorthodox righty will also win two Cy Young Awards?

***

MySpace Message From: Brian Sabean (Tue, Jul 30, 1:04 AM)

KT,

I've heard of your rumored 3-way with CWS & LAA, but don't forget how badly you want Pence!

BTW, why did MySpace fall out of favor? I like this webpage.

MySpace Message Received From: Kevin Towers (Tue, Jul 30, 2:22 AM)

Dearest Brian,

Don't believe everything you read in the news.

Hunter Pence please for Josh Collmenter, A.J. Pollock and Stryker Trahan. Let me know.

MySpace Message From: Brian Sabean (Tue, Jul 30, 1:04 AM)

KTizzle,

Hahaha, yeah I know, I floated that 3-way rumor myself. Howie Kendrick, Jake Peavy, and Tyler Skaggs as the centerpieces. Anyway, you’ve given me plenty to think about here. While I was looking for more of a starter-type, Collmenter has settled into the bullpen nicely especially since he can log plenty of innings with his previous starting experience.

***

Brian Cashman (@Ca$hman) has sent you a direct message on Twitter

Nik Turley
Peter O'Brien
Tom Kahnle (Trenton reliever not positive if spelling is correct)

Brian Sabean (@SabesGiantsGeneralManager) has sent you a direct message on Twitter

A pair of intriguing arms for sure. Can other people read these tweets we’re making?

***

Walt Jocketty tagged you in a post on Facebook

Hey Brian Sabean, do you want to do this deal?

Hunter Pence (COF, ML)
Chris Dominguez (CIF/COF, Triple-A)
$500 K

for

Jesse Winker (COF, Low-A)
Drew Cisco (RHP, Low-A)
Trevor Bell (RHP, Double-A)

Pence would be a boon for us. There's no playing down the impact his bat could have in the top half of our line-up. Because offense is a need, and a right-handed corner outfield bat is a perfect fit, I'm willing to overpay some for two-plus months of production. Winker is raking and has future middle-of-the-order upside and Cisco is an advanced arm that should do well in your system. Bell is obviously a throw-in (you'd be his third org this year), but has handled the closer job well for us at Double-A. He's been tough to elevate (as I'm sure you and your scouts already know) and hitters aren't seeing the ball well out of his hand.

Ultimately, this probably comes down to Winker and Cisco for two months of Pence and a thrown in relief arm for a Triple-A third baseman you guys don't really want (he's 26 and you haven't given him an at bat with the big club yet). I hate the idea of losing Winker, but we need a bat and you've got a pretty good one to sell us.

Let me know...

Brian Sabean sent a message on Facebook

You posted the offer to our wall spaces, Wally! Hehe! Winker’s showing some great pop for sure. Of course he’s also a long way out and more importantly, can the power play in our yard? Too early to answer that, but always a concern for us. You’ve positioned yourself well here and I consider this offer one of the top ones I’ve received. I’ll make my final decision after receiving all of them.

***

Dave Dombrowski flew to San Francisco to meet Brian Sabean in person on Tuesday afternoon

BS: Dave, you really didn’t need to come out here.

DD: Sure I did, have you see Moneyball? Maybe I’ll find my own Peter Brand out here! *laughs too much at that joke*

BS: *laughs even harder*

DD: Anyway, we could use someone like Pence. I’ve told the media about 12 times that we’re done so we’re clearly not and I want to knock their socks off with a deal. I’m working on getting Iglesias from Boston, but this would be even more of a knockout.

BS: Castellanos?

DD: C’mon Brian, we know that’s not happening. Pence isn’t Carlos Beltran.

BS: GET OUT!

DD: Kiiiidddding!!

BS: Well, then who? *bounces sunlight reflection off of 2012 World Series ring into Dave’s eyes*

DD: Stop that please.

BS: *keeps doing it*

DD: Anyway, we are keeping in mind your rotation situation for next year. We believe that Casey Crosby is close to overcoming his injury history to emerge as a reliable big-league starter. Thus, we'll offer Crosby and Low-A right-hander Jake Thompson in exchange for Pence.

BS: Hmm.

DD: Not too bad, huh?

BS: It’s sharp, but I gotta tell ya, I can’t give ya firm answer right now because I’ve got a few others coming in so I feel really bad that you came all the way out here unannounced to try and get this deal done when they are so many other forms of communication that would’ve been better.

DD: Aw shucks, it’s no problem, Brian. Just let me know as soon as possible, if not I’ll probably trade Castellanos and Thompson for Giancarlo Stanton or something.

***

From: Brian Sabean
To: Chris Antonetti

July 31, 5:24 a.m.

This is quite an offer, Chris. We’re going to go ahead and proceed with it as-is. I feel like I should tell you that Dombrowski was out here (yeah, he flew out here for some reason) and mentioned that if I didn’t accept his deal, he was going to get Stanton from Miami so you should keep those sights set on a wild card. Lopez is playoff magic, though. Pence, Swisher, and Giambi will have that clubhouse boiling over with chemistry!! Good luck.

***

REVIEW:

PITTSBURGH: Luis Heredia, Andrew Lambo, and Tony Watson for Hunter Pence and Javier Lopez – DENIED

BOSTON: Deven Marrero, Anthony Ranaudo, and Travis Shaw for Hunter Pence – DENIED

BALTIMORE: Henry Urrutia, Eduardo Rodriguez and Zach Britton for Hunter Pence – DENIED

TEXAS: Engel Beltre and Hanser Albert for Hunter Pence – DENIED

KANSAS CITY: Jason Adam and remainder of Pence contract for Hunter Pence – DENIED

CLEVELAND: Trevor Bauer, Tyler Naquin, Ronny Rodriguez for Hunter Pence and Javier Lopez – ACCEPTED

ARIZONA: Josh Collmenter, A.J. Pollock and Stryker Trahan for Hunter Pence – DENIED

NEW YORK: Nik Turley, Peter O'Brien, and Tom Kahnle for Hunter Pence – DENIED

CINCINNATI: Jesse Winker, Drew Cisco, and Trevor Bell for Hunter Pence, Chris Dominguez, and $500K – DENIED

DETROIT: Casey Crosby and Jake Thompson for Hunter Pence – DENIED

Paul Sporer is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Paul's other articles. You can contact Paul by clicking here

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