The Giants already brought Pablo Sandoval back to the organization. Another fan favorite is not far behind.
MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported Friday that Hunter Pence and the Giants have agreed to a contract for the 2020 season.
Earlier Friday, sources told NBC Sports Bay Area the organization was discussing a reunion with Pence. Hardball Talk reported Friday morning that Pence was on his way to San Francisco to take a physical, but a source stressed that no deal is done yet.
Pence rode off into the sunset, literally on a scooter, after seven wildly popular seasons with the Giants, but he has kept a presence in the city even while spending the majority of his time in his native Texas. He played for the hometown Rangers last year, turning back the clock with an All-Star campaign.
Hunter Pence's Giants career ends, appropriately, on a scooter. pic.twitter.com/ZD5MmbBerV— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) September 30, 2018
Pence hit .297 and posted a .910 OPS while battling injuries. He hit 18 homers in 83 games after hitting just 17 total the previous two years for the Giants. Most importantly for the 2020 Giants, Pence batted .327 and slugged .636 against left-handed pitchers.
The Giants are heavily left-handed in the outfield -- with Mike Yastrzemski and Alex Dickerson headed for major roles -- and have been looking for platoon help. Farhan Zaidi said Thursday that he expected to add one or two players before the start of camp, but wasn't necessarily looking for 150-game starters.
Pence was once the game's most durable player, but at 36, he's more of a platoon outfielder and pinch-hitter at this point. He would also provide something else that's crucial to new manager Gabe Kapler: A commitment to culture.
There have been few big leaguers in recent history who did more to unify a clubhouse than Pence, and with him and Sandoval back in the room, the Giants would be guaranteed to have the kind of energy Kapler wants in his first year. Kapler has talked of having high-intensity workouts and out-preparing other teams, and few veterans are more suited for that than Pence.