Hunter Pence gets $13.8 million to avoid arbitration with Giants

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Shortly after the season ended there was some speculation that the Giants would non-tender Hunter Pence rather than pay him a big salary via arbitration following a down year.

General manager Brian Sabean quickly shot that notion down, making it clear he wanted Pence back in 2013, and now we see the price tag: Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that Pence and the Giants have avoided arbitration with a one-year, $13.8 million deal.

That means the Giants feared he’d get more than that via an actual arbitration hearing and as crazy as that sounds it was very possible considering Pence was paid $10.4 million last season and … well, that’s just how arbitration works.

Of course, there was nothing forcing the Giants to keep Pence after he hit just .253 with a .319 on-base percentage and .425 slugging percentage in 160 games last year and it’s hard to imagine him getting $13.8 million per season on the open market. San Francisco’s commitment is only one season, which is a key factor, but even if he bounces back to pre-2012 production (.293 AVG, .825 OPS from 2009-2011) it’s still debatable if Pence is worth that money. He’ll be a free agent next offseason.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.