A matter of hours after learning of a trade that would send Shane Victorino to the Los Angeles Dodgers, word leaked that the Philadelphia Phillies had sent outfielder Hunter Pence to the other contender in the National League West, the San Francisco Giants.
Shortly after that, we learned from Danny Knobbler of CBS Sports that catching prospect Tommy Joseph would be going to Philadelphia in the deal. Then, we learned from Jon Heyman, also of CBS Sports, that the Giants would also be giving up outfielder Nate Schierholtz. Finally, Todd Zolecki of MLB.com informs us that the Phillies will also receive right-handed pitching prospect Seth Rosin.
As previously mentioned, the Phillies have recalled Domonic Brown from Triple A Lehigh Valley to fill in the sudden holes in the team’s outfield.
The acquisition of Pence can be seen as the Giants’ answer to the Dodgers’ recent shopping spree, but in reality, this is a move that needed to be made regardless of what was happening in Los Angeles. Pence, unlike Victorino, is more than just a rental for the Giants, he has an extra year of team control next season.
This factor would lead one to believe that Pence would cost more to acquire in a trade than the former Phillies center fielder, and that’s without even mentioning the fact that Pence is having a more productive season than Victorino at the plate. However, perhaps mitigating that cost is the exceptionally high salary that Pence is expected to earn in his final year of arbitration which could reach over $14 million.
Pence will most likely replace the Gregor Blanco and Schierholtz platoon in right field for the Giants, and offer far superior offensive value than either of those options with his ability to hit both right-handed and left-handed pitchers equally well.
For the Phillies, the deal isn’t so much about acquiring Joseph, Schierholtz or Rosin as it is about saving money, both in terms of the rest of this year as well as next. That’s not to diminish the return, though.
Joseph, who was ranked as the fourth best prospect in the Giants system by Kevin Goldstein for Baseball Prospectus, hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire with his .260/.313/.391 slash line in Double A this year. However, he’s only 21-years old, and according to Baseball America, he should be able to make a career as a Major League catcher.
Meanwhile, Schierholtz has been his regular dependable self as a fielder while putting up slightly above average offensive numbers, as he is also prone to do. What you see is most likely what you get with the 28-year old, but it will still be nice to hopefully see him get more playing time in Philadelphia than he was in San Francisco. He has a $1.3 million salary in his first year of arbitration, and shouldn’t cost much more than a nominal raise in 2013.
Rosin isn’t considered a top prospect in the Giants system, but the 23 year old has found some success working out of the bullpen in High A., where he’s collected a 28.8% strike out rate and a 7.6% walk rate over 56 innings.
For Philadelphia, the deal can’t help but be coupled with moving Shane Victorino as a sign that the Phillies are reloading their roster. As I’ve expressed before, following their locking up of Cole Hamels to a multi-year contract, I was concerned that Philadelphia would continue to try to forge ahead with the top heavy payroll that it had gathered while being in dead last in the National League West.
I like this series of moves for the Phillies because it gives them flexibility in terms of payroll to avoid an entire demolition rebuild, and instead begin a reloading that’s sure to spark semantic debates, as the team replaces its more expensive talent with bodies that will hopefully provide cheaper production.