Outfielder Hunter Pence enjoyed a resurgent season with the Texas Rangers. Should the San Francisco Giants bring him back in 2020?
The end of the 2019 season saw the San Francisco Giants get crushed by the Los Angeles Dodgers while saying goodbye to a man—longtime manager Bruce Bochy—who was instrumental in bringing championships to the city this decade.
The same could be said of the 2018 season.
When Hunter Pence gave that final speech saying thank you for his time with the San Francisco Giant, many wondered if that would be the last time Pence would don a big-league uniform.
Instead, he went and played in the Dominican Republic during the offseason to retool his swing in an effort to keep playing at the highest level.
That hard work paid off.
After signing a minor league deal and playing his way onto the Texas Rangers during spring training, the 36-year-old batted .297/.358/.552 with 18 home runs and 59 RBI while serving predominantly as a designated hitter.
That performance made him one of the biggest surprises of the year and his resurgence begs the question: Should the San Francisco Giants bring him back?
The odds would seem to be stacked against him putting up those kinds of numbers if he rejoined the Giants.
He would have to man a position defensively, which would prevent him from focusing solely on hitting and mean a higher risk of injury. To that point, he missed time to injury in 2019 even while serving primarily as a DH.
He’s not getting any younger, which plays into the higher frequency of injuries, and long gone are the iron-man days where he was playing 162 games every year.
It’s also worth mentioning that team president Farhan Zaidi is fond of players who offer defensive versatility, and Pence does not fit that mold as he would be limited to the corner outfield spots. In fact, he is probably no longer a good enough fielder to start every day in right and he would be shaky in left at best.
All in all, it’s pretty clear that a reunion with one of the most beloved San Francisco Giants players of the past decade would not be particularly beneficial to anyone involved. Pence would be better off staying in the AL where he can DH, and the Giants would be better off exploring younger, more versatile alternatives.
The era of nostalgia truly appears to be over in San Francisco.
Bringing back Hunter Pence may have made some sense for the San Francisco Giants some other year, but it is clear that the franchise is now headed in a different direction.