Giants, Pence agree to five-year extension
Teammates happy to retain outfielder, who gets full no-trade clause
SAN FRANCISCO -- By agreeing with Hunter Pence on a five-year contract, the Giants essentially adopted their right fielder's approach. They hustled to get the job done.
Unwilling to let Pence get the faintest whiff of free agency, the Giants announced they agreed with him on a five-year contract extension Saturday, accomplishing their top offseason priority a day before the regular season ends.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that Pence's agreement was worth $90 million, an average annual value of $18 million that's commensurate with the salaries of the Majors' best-paid outfielders.
Pence isn't quite at the level of the Angels' Josh Hamilton ($25 million annually) or the Dodgers' Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp ($20 million apiece). But, after earning $13.8 million this year, Pence will leap past the likes of the Cardinals' Matt Holliday ($17.1 million), the Yankees' Alfonso Soriano ($17 million) and the Dodgers' Andre Ethier ($17 million). Ethier's five-year, $85 million deal was believed to be the baseline from which Pence's side negotiated.
Pence, who will receive a full no-trade clause, also became the second-highest-paid Giants position player, both in total and annual contract value. Catcher Buster Posey's nine-year, $167 million contract is worth $18.555 million per season.
The Giants' exclusive negotiating period with all of their free agents lasts until five days following the end of the World Series. But, eager to guarantee they'd retain Pence's singular combination of on-field prowess and off-field intangibles, they refused to risk he would remove his Giants jersey for the final time Sunday.
"Everybody in here thought something crazy would have to happen not to bring him back," left-hander Madison Bumgarner said.
Since Pence's agreement was contingent on his passing a physical examination -- an amusing formality, given that he's poised to become the first Giant in the franchise's San Francisco era to start every regular-season game -- he refrained from discussing his contract Saturday. Pence will break his silence at a news conference that's expected Sunday.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy also was obliged to remain mum.
"I couldn't be happier for Hunter, but it has to become official before I talk more about it," Bochy said.
But center fielder Angel Pagan sensed Pence's perspective.
"I'm sure he feels very comfortable here," Pagan said. "This is a class organization. They take a lot of pride in winning. That's what we're here for. I'm sure that's why Hunter wanted to stay here. We're focused on winning. We're not here just to play baseball. We're here to win championships and be successful. For us to be successful, he's a big part of that."
Pence proved that in 2012 after the Giants acquired him from Philadelphia on July 31 for right fielder Nate Schierholtz, catching prospect Tommy Joseph and Minor League right-hander Seth Rosin. Pence hit only .219 in 59 games for the Giants yet drove in 45 runs.
With the Giants trailing Cincinnati two games to none in the Division Series and facing elimination, Pence delivered an impassioned speech to his teammates before Game 3. San Francisco won in 10 innings, 2-1, launching its march to a World Series triumph.
"He's very positive," Pagan said of his outfield neighbor. "The score could be 20-0 in the ninth with two outs and he'd still think we can win. That's the right attitude. He injects that type of energy to the club. ... It's a long season and you need somebody right next to you who can pick you up whenever you're going bad."
Friday, Pence received the 2013 Willie Mac Award as the team's most inspirational player. He was the right choice, as the Giants' reaction to his new contract reaffirmed.
"You know what kind of energy he brings to the clubhouse. I'd love to have him here the rest of his career," Bumgarner said. "He's a hard worker and he has a lot of pride in his game. That's the kind of teammate you want."
Echoed right-hander Matt Cain, "He's definitely an exciting player to watch for us as teammates, and he brings that excitement to the stadium for the fans, too. He's a guy that is always going to bring it, every game. To have him on the team is a huge benefit for us. That's a guy that you want on your side."
Pence maintained his effort Saturday against San Diego, extending a career high by clobbering his 27th home run of the season in the third inning. He leads the team in numerous offensive categories, including homers, slugging percentage (.484), RBIs (96), runs (91), doubles (35), triples (five) and stolen bases (22), another personal best.
Giants management now will turn its attention to attempting to re-sign right-hander Tim Lincecum, another potential free agent. Conveniently, Pence's agency, the Beverly Hills Sports Council, also represents Lincecum.
Lincecum called Pence's agreement a "personal decision" that would not influence him.
"I still have time to think about it," Lincecum said. "It's not a pressing thing for me. I'll make the decision when time comes."
Lincecum has repeated that he's intrigued by what might await him in free agency. Asked if he would consider signing with the Giants before he would hit the open market, Lincecum replied, "I can't answer that."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.