Surprise, surprise: Hunter Pence returning to Giants with chance to win a job, per report

The SF Giants and outfielder Hunter Pence have reportedly agreed on a deal that includes an invitation to spring training

Hunter Pence #8 of the San Francisco Giants greets fans following their 15-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers during their MLB game at AT&T Park on September 30, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images)
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SAN FRANCISCO — Hunter Pence’s comeback story has another new chapter and the setting is a familiar one.

According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, Pence has agreed to a deal to return to the San Francisco Giants. MLB.com is reporting the contract is a major league deal, which will force the Giants to clear a 40-man roster spot for the outfielder.

Pence, who played seven parts of seven seasons with the Giants, spent 2019 with the Texas Rangers after signing a minor league deal with his hometown club and securing a spot as a part-time outfielder and designated hitter last spring.

Following a handful of rough seasons in San Francisco, Pence revamped his swing last winter and reaped the benefits as he hit 18 home runs and drove in 59 runs while earning his fourth All-Star nod.

Pence battled injuries during the second half of the year that limited him to just 28 games after the All-Star break, but he’s reportedly healthy and ready to vie for a job in the Giants outfield this spring.

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The #SFGiants have reportedly agreed to a guaranteed deal with outfielder Hunter Pence.

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Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said Thursday the team was interested in adding a corner outfielder who could push younger players in a spring competition and potentially aid the team in a platoon role.

Despite struggles at the plate during his final seasons with the Giants, Pence proved last season he’s a valuable asset against left-handed pitchers as he batted .327 with a 1.015 OPS against southpaws in 2019.

Pence will compete with the likes of Jaylin Davis, Austin Slater and non-roster invitee Darin Ruf for playing time this spring and should be a valuable addition to a clubhouse that includes several young outfielders looking for a breakthrough at the big league level.

The obvious fit for Pence is in left field as a platoon partner with oft-injured slugger Alex Dickerson, who hit six home runs and posted an .820 OPS in 56 games with the Giants last year.

A return to San Francisco is a mild surprise for Pence, who knew his chances of finding a new home last season were small after he hit .226 with a .590 OPS in his final season with the Giants. After his last game in San Francisco, the Giants presented Pence with a custom scooter and asked him to take a final lap around the ballpark as fans celebrated the two-time World Series champion and longtime emotional leader.

With his contract expired, Pence said he hoped to continue playing baseball and expressed optimism he would find the right fit, but a reunion with the Giants last offseason was off the table. After Pence played winter ball in the Dominican Republic and showcased his value with the Rangers, the outfielder and the Giants developed mutual interest in a return to San Francisco and it has now come to fruition.

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