Hunter Pence is arbitration eligible this offseason, for the fourth time. But that didn't stop Brian Sabean from guaranteeing that Pence would be a member of the Giants in 2013.
Pence is, as MLB Trade Rumors Tim Dierkes notes, "the most expensive arbitration-eligible player in all of baseball." He stands to make $13.8 million in arbitration, a hefty sum. But Sabean isn't scared to lock him onto the roster.
"Pence is going to be coming back," Sabean said at the general managers' meetings, via Jerry Crasnick of ESPN. "We think there are some things he can do to fix what went wrong this year. We like the player. We made a big trade to get him, and he's going to be a Giant next year."
The outfielder, who the Giants acquired at the trade deadline, actually struggled a lot for San Francisco, hitting .219/.287/.671 with seven homers in 59 games for the Giants.
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But he had some big hits in the playoffs and, perhaps more importantly, was an inspiration in the clubhouse, giving big-time pep talks to the team when it looked like they might be eliminated.
So don't expect, per Sabean, to see Pence non-tendered.
"We never would have traded for a guy that we remotely thought we would be non-tendering," Sabean said. "So any speculation about that doesn't make any sense. By that point in the season, you pretty much know where a guy is going in terms of the arbitration clock and the money."
Pence might be pricey in 2013. The Giants will offer him arbitration and he'll end up getting a bump from the $10.4 million he was making last season. But then the Giants will have a chance to see if he rebounds to more "normal" numbers for him during the upcoming season and perhaps decide if they want to lock him down long term.
After all, Pence seems like he's been around for a while (and he has, we suppose) but he's only 29 years old. And it sounds like he'll be with the Giants when he turns 30 as well.