The SF Giants had a busy Sunday morning as they recalled Sam Coonrod from the injured list, acquired infielder Daniel Robertson, and designated Hunter Pence for assignment.
Of course, the most notable move was placing the long-time SF Giants outfielder and emotional leader on waivers.
The Giants brought back Pence on a one-year, $3 million contract after spending the 2019 season with the Texas Rangers. The right-handed bat earned an American League All-Star nod in his lone season with Texas as he slashed a .297/.358/.552 line (126 OPS+) with 18 home runs and 59 RBI across 316 plate appearances.
Pence hammered left-handed hurlers to the tune of a 1.015 OPS in 2019 while the Giants posted a paltry .692 OPS against southpaws. San Francisco’s line of thinking was that by adding Pence, they would bolster their lineup against left-handed pitching.
Interestingly, the Giants are hitting .269 with an .858 OPS against left-handers this season. However, that success hasn’t come from Pence.
In 2020, Pence has generated a .096/.161/.250 line (12 OPS+) while being worth -0.7 WAR. With the glove, the 37-year-old struggled on several routine plays and it became apparent that he was no longer a reliable outfielder.
That said, he did help the Giants net a win in Houston two weeks ago with a three-run blast:
By designating Pence for assignment, the Giants opened up a spot on the 40-man roster for recently acquired infielder Daniel Robertson.
Pence will likely clear waivers given his salary and poor production. However, given his production as recently as 2019, Pence should be able to land another gig with a team that needs help against left-handed pitching soon.
The Giants used Pence’s open spot on the active roster to recall right-handed reliever Sam Coonrod from the injured list.
Coonrod was placed on the injured list three weeks ago with a right lat strain, and he was making progress toward a return in recent days.
The 27-year-old has a 7.36 ERA across only 3.2 frames in 2020, but he did produce a 3.58 ERA in 27.2 innings last season. Since making his debut, the right-handed reliever has yielded 18 walks and 23 hits in 31.1 major league innings.
While command continues to be an issue for Coonrod, he has proven to be difficult to barrel-up as well. Opposing hitters have not looked comfortable in the batter’s box against the hard-throwing righty, and this is usually a good indicator of a pitcher’s stuff.
The addition of Coonrod brings another right-handed arm to a bullpen that has leaned very heavy on southpaws this season. Given this, Coonrod should see plenty of opportunities to prove that the numbers he posted in 2019 were not a fluke.
This was a difficult morning for Giants fans as they bid farewell to a fan favorite in Pence, but the moves the Giants are making are geared toward the future. At some point, it became clear that Pence was not part of that future. It is a bitter pill to swallow, but better days are ahead.