Trade Values: Hunter Pence

Earlier today we heard a sort of non-rumor about Hunter Pence. Jon Heyman reported the Pirates are interested in Pence, but that the Giants aren’t looking to trade him at the moment. The Giants still see themselves in contention, since they’re 5.5 games back, despite being fourth in their division and having a losing record. They also would need to be overwhelmed to deal Pence. To get an idea of what Pence is worth, let’s look at his trade value. I’ll leave it up to you to decide what an “overwhelming” deal would be for Pence.

NOTE: The purpose here isn’t to suggest the Pirates are offering this amount for these players.  The purpose is to see the value of these players, using projected values (calculated as [(WAR*$5 M) - Salary]) and prospect trade values. We use our updated values for top 100 prospects, and Victor Wang’s research on prospect values for non-top 100 prospects. Also check out our values for the prospects in the Pirates system to get an idea of what a deal would cost for the Pirates.

Hunter Pence Trade Value

Year Salary WAR FA Value Surplus Value
2013 $13,800,000 4.0 $20,200,000 $2,100,000
Hunter Pence is worth a young Grade C pitching prospect.

Hunter Pence is worth a young Grade C pitching prospect.

Finding the Value: Pence is in the final year of control, and is making $13.8 M. I set his WAR at 4.0, which might be a little high. He had a 4.4 WAR in 2011, but that was the only year in his career that he’s been above a 3.8. Also, if you average the previous three seasons, he’s a 3.0 WAR player. However, Pence has a 2.7 WAR already this year. Also, the Giants would have to be overwhelmed to deal him. I’m not sure what that means, but I figured giving him credit for this season’s results would help make up for that value. I calculated the trade on July 31st.

What He’s Worth: Because of his big salary, Pence doesn’t have a lot of surplus value. He would be owed about $4.5 M in the final two months of the year. As a 4.0 WAR player he is worth a young Grade C pitching prospect. If you take that down to a 3.0 WAR player, he’s worth $500,000, which is a Grade C prospect or an Aaron Baker for Derrek Lee type deal. There is that “overwhelm” factor to consider. The Giants might be able to get a compensation pick for Pence if they tender him an offer and he signs elsewhere. In the past a pick has been worth $2.5 M. That’s the same value as a young Grade C pitching prospect. You could argue that the guarantee of getting value is better than the chance of getting a pick and the chance of that pick becoming valuable. The Giants might not necessarily see it that way. Either way, I don’t see Pence being worth a Grade B or higher prospect.

Analysis: A lot of the value with Pence comes from his defense this year. He’s got a 10.5 UZR/150, which is making up for his lack of hitting. Offensively he has a .265/.307/.455 line. He’s hitting for power, but he’s not getting on base at a good rate. His numbers are similar to last year (although with a bit more power), so it’s not like this can be chalked up to a down year. The Pirates aren’t getting defense from Jose Tabata in right field this year, but they are getting offense in a limited sample. Travis Snider is providing defense (3.2 UZR/150 in RF), but no offense.

Pence is another situation where you’ve got a guy with name value, but not a lot of upgrade value. I don’t know if Jose Tabata will keep hitting like he is currently hitting, but right now he’s hitting better than Pence, and I don’t see Pence improving his numbers. There is the chance that Tabata won’t keep hitting like this, which means Pence would be an upgrade both offensively and defensively. That’s not saying much, as Pence isn’t really providing a lot of offense. It’s just saying that if Jose Tabata’s hitting suddenly becomes horrible, the Pirates would have someone who isn’t so horrible.

The Pirates need an offensive upgrade, and a lot of the value from Pence is based on his defense. He also carries a lot of name value, which is probably going to drive his price up beyond what he’s actually worth. I wasn’t a fan of trading for Pence last year when it would have cost Starling Marte. If the cost is a young Grade C pitcher then it wouldn’t be a bad move. I just don’t see that being possible for Pence due to his name value, and I don’t think he really stands out over any of the other names we’ve seen on the market.

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • https://profiles.google.com/116366873579930999690 Thom Kay

    If Casey Sadler + Mel Rojas, Jr. got the deal done, I’d love it. Pence is a 3 fWAR player over the past year. That’s a nice upgrade.

    Does Snider have trade value?

  • moose7195

    If the last two trade deadlines are any indication, I highly doubt only one Grade C pitcher would get this deal done. The Giants are probably going to want to get some type of return similar to what they paid for Pence.

    • meatygettingsaucy

      Funny you say that, on one of the Giants blogs the fans were saying they should get Taillon or Glasnow for Pence since that is what they paid to get Beltran. Illogical yes but hilarious

  • csnumber23

    Tim so far I have agreed with most of your articles but not this one. Hunter Pence is a HUGE upgrade on Jose Tabata, it is not even close. You actually said Tabata is a better hitter than Pence right now. What am I missing?? Tabata has a couple good games off the DL aided by weak ground ball hits and suddenly he is better than Pence?? In my opinion Tabata is a decent and I repeat decent 4th outfielder in the majors and that is it.

    I am not saying give up one of our big time top prospects but I would try to get him. Personally I think acquiring Pence, Rios or Morales would give us a great shot at the division.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      Tabata: .286/.348/.421
      Pence: .265/.307/.455

      They’re actually about equal, with Pence providing power and Tabata providing on-base skills.

      And as I said, Tabata’s is a small sample and might not continue. But it’s not like Pence is a great hitter right now.

      • csnumber23

        I’ve seen enough of Tabata to know it won’t continue, not that he is doing anything special anyway. Pence could easily still improve on the year as his career numbers are much better. We need another run producer with some pop and clutch hitting. Pence has proven to be that in his career. Tabata AHH NO

  • joe g.

    We need offense. I don’t see Pence as the answer.

    • csnumber23

      Who is better out there on the market?? Pence is 30, that is not old. his career numbers Avg. .283 OBP. .336 SLG .473

      Even in a down year he is on pace for 37 doubles 7 triples 24 HR’s 83 RBI’s 89 runs and 24 steals. Not sure what you guys are looking at but Pence is a HUGE upgrade on what we have in RF.

      Again, I would not give one of our top prospects but I would give a 2nd tier one at a position we are deep at.

      • BostonsCommon

        Clay Holmes

  • burghdood

    Don’t forget, it’s just a 2 month rental-they’d be insane to give up A or B talent for an 8 or 9 weeks of service!