UPDATE: Well, maybe not:
6:47 AM: There is a lot uncertainty about this at the moment. It’s not been confirmed by anyone at the moment (given the hour no surprise). Watch for updates.
6: 38 AM: KPIX TV in San Francisco is reporting that The Giants “have a deal in place” to acquire Hunter Pence from the Phillies, pending ownership approval. At the moment there’s no word on who would head back to Philly if the deal is approved.
The Phillies have been letting other clubs know that Pence is available for several days now, and the Giants’ three-runs over three games against the Dodgers this past weekend may very well have been the final impetus Brian Sabean needed to add a bat.
Pence is hitting .268/.333/.44 on the season with 17 home runs and 59 RBI. He struggled in April, raked in May and June and has once again hit the skids in July so it’s been something of an erratic year for him. Still, he’d represent a power upgrade for the Giants who only have two dudes with as many as 10 home runs. Pence is 30 and he’s got one year left of team control, and his arbitration award in 2013 could be around $12-13 million bucks.
The ownership approval part is interesting. I assume that means Giants owners given it would require them taking on a largish salary commitment. Could be the Phillies owners, though. But really, I see no reason why the people who currently own the Phillies — the Atlanta Braves — would balk at such a deal.
The Marlins are intent on adding one of the three best relievers available on the free agent market, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Those three, of course, are Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon.
As Ashley noted earlier, Melancon is reportedly fielding multiple four-year offers in excess of $60 million. The price tags for Chapman and Jansen are likely to match or exceed that. The Marlins haven’t typically been eager to whip out the checkbook for free agents but with the bullpen being the name of the game in baseball these days, GM Michael Hill may feel the need to match his rivals.
The Nationals, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, and Dodgers are the teams most often linked to the “big-three” group of relievers, so it won’t be easy for the Marlins.
A.J. Ramos handled the closer’s role for the Marlins this past season and did an admirable job, saving 40 games with a 2.81 ERA and a 73/35 K/BB ratio in 64 innings. There’s no doubt, though, that Chapman, Jansen, or Melancon would represent a significant upgrade in the ninth inning.
C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Reds manager Bryan Price is likely going to use a trio of pitchers in the closer’s role: Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, and Michael Lorenzen. At RedsFest on Saturday, Price said:
I’d say right now that we have a series of guys that I’m comfortable with in the ninth inning and that would include (Raisel) Iglesias, (Tony) Cingrani and (Michael Lorenzen). Should we stay with this format – which I intend to do – all three of those guys and maybe more could have opportunities in save situations. At this point in time, there’s no defined closer. There are multiple options and I’d like to stick with the philosophy that we’re going to have our multi-inning guys, so we’re going to need multi-closers.
This seems to be part of the new bullpen zeitgeist in which managers are shying away from strictly-defined roles for their relievers. Indians manager Terry Francona’s postseason success using Andrew Miller likely had some degree of influence on Price’s willingness to go with a three-headed giant.
Iglesias started the 2016 season in the Reds’ rotation but missed two months with an injury, then moved to the bullpen in late June. Price put him in the closer’s role down the stretch in September. The right-hander overall finished the season with a 2.53 ERA and an 83/26 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings.
Cingrani battled control issues in his 63 innings of work this past season, finishing with a 4.14 ERA and a 49/37 K/BB ratio. He’s left-handed, though, and gives Price some matchup flexibility in the late innings.
Lorenzen impressed in his first full season as a reliever, ending the year with a 2.88 ERA and a 48/13 K/BB ratio in 50 innings. The right-hander uses a fastball that sits around 96 MPH on average along with a cutter and slider.