The San Francisco Giants jumpstarted their faltering offense in the final hours of the 2012 non-waiver trade deadline Tuesday, going head-to-head with the Los Angeles Dodgers in an all out MLB arms race to win the National League West.
The Giants picked up right fielder Hunter Pence from the Philadelphia Phillies for Double A Richmond catcher Tommy Joseph, Single A San Jose right-handed pitcher Seth Rosin, and right fielder Nate Schierholtz.
Pence will be under team control through the 2013 season, his final year of arbitration eligibility prior to free agency.
The Giants were active bidders against several other teams to get Kansas City closer Jonathon Broxton, but Broxton was picked up at the last minute by the Cincinnati Reds.
With the acqusition of Pence, 29, and last week’s addition of infielder Marco Scutaro, the Giants addressed two of the three main issues effecting team performance the first half of the season: lack of production in right field and finding a potent infield bat.
San Francisco was unable to fix their third big issue, reinforcing the bullpen following the loss of closer Brian Wilson and the inability of Santiago Casilla to consistenly fill the closer role. Any deal from this point on must go through a list of other MLB teams and clearing those waivers can be difficult to get done.
It is a testament to the creativity and experience of Giants’ General Manager Brian Sabean that San Francisco was able to target its biggest needs so effectively without giving up any of their top four minor league prospects: center fielder Gary Brown, closer Heath Hembree, second baseman Joe Panik, and outfielder Francisco Peguero.
Seth Rosin may be the sleeper in the Hunter Pence deal. As I noted in the “Prospects” column to the right, Rosin was selected in the 4th round of the 2010 first year player draft after being selected but not signed in 28th round of the 2007 draft by the Minnesota Twins. Rosin is a 6’7″ strike thrower who can hit 95 MPH with his fastball; he currently has 68 SO in 58.1 IP.
Including Nate Schierholtz in the Pence deal clears San Francisco’s roster of a marginal player who was never a consistent run producer. Schierholtz, who was part of the Giants’ 2010 World Championship team, goes from AT&T Park, a very tough ballpark for hitters, to the Phillies’ Citizens Bank Park– one of the best hitters’ parks in the Majors. That should give Schierholtz an offensive statistical bump.
But the real news here is that by making Tommy Joseph the centerpiece of the Hunter Pence trade the San Francisco Giants delt from their biggest organizational strength: the franchise’s deepest assets are at the catcher position. With Buster Posey and Hector Sanchez at the big league level and Andrew Susac at Single A San Jose, the loss of Joseph shouldn’t impact the Giants’ future.
Both the Giants and the Dodgers (with new pick-ups IF Hanley Ramirez, OF Shane Victorino, and RP Brandon League) are armed and recharged for the upcoming battles of August and September. The traditional difference-makers are starting pitching and bullpen strength– both areas in which the Giants still have a distinct edge.