There have been salary drives, then there is the red-hot, late-closing free-agent-to-be Hunter Pence, who's earning himself more than a pretty pence or two in a noteworthy drive for dough. Pence's big finish is so off-the-charts good it's almost unprecedented, though one that comes to mind is the second half of Carlos Beltran in 2005, who made himself tens of millions of dollars in his final days as an Astro.
Pence this week became the first Giants player to homer in each game of a four-game series against the rival Dodgers since Willie Mays. Then made it five dingers in the four games on Sunday.
Pence became the first Giant to record 16 RBI in five games since Mel Ott did it in 1934. He ended up with 19 RBI in six games.
Pence had such a great week, it's like a month. Speaking of which, as Andrew Baggarly of CSN BayArea (@CSNBaggs) pointed out, he appears en route to breaking the Giants' single-month record for RBI, which is 34 by Jeff Kent. Pence has 23 exactly halfway through. And as Baggarly also pointed out, Pence is one of two players this season with 20 homers, 20 steals and 30 doubles this year, the other being Mike Trout.
Hunter Pence, Giants OF: The Giants and Pence have had preliminary contract talks, as Heny Schulman (@hankschulman) of the San Francisco Chronicle reported, and it's clear they're going to try to keep the player who helped them win a second World Series championship with his “triple double” hit and inspirational speech, and then followed it with a big season (and especially month). But it won't be cheap.
The Giants have the money, and they've showed they like to keep their stars. But the Rangers (a hometown team for Pence as he played at UT-Arlington), who will lose Nelson Cruz, and the Yankees, if they can eschew the original plan to get below the $189-million threshold, loom as threats.
One obvious comp for Pence could be Andre Ethier, who signed for $85 million over five years with the rival Dodgers a couple years ago. One competing executive opined, “Pence is the better player, as Ethier struggles against left-handed pitching.” That exec also cited “inflation plus the year he's had” as factors that could boost his pay further. Another difference: Ethier wasn't yet a free agent when he signed that deal in the final days of the Frank McCourt regime.
In other words, Pence's timing couldn't be better.