The center field market continues to shrink, as Angel Pagan has re-signed with the San Francisco Giants for four years and $40 million. Pagan's signing comes on the heels of BJ Upton signing with the Braves and Denard Span getting dealt to the Nationals last week.
Pagan was acquired by the Giants prior to the 2012 season from the Mets in exchange for fellow center fielder Andres Torres, who was nontendered on Friday by the Mets. After a down 2011, Pagan rebounded to provide the Giants with a .778 OPS and 4.8 fWAR in 2012. Pagan also stole 29 bases at an 80.5% clip for the Giants. But he'll turn 32 next July, and four years for an aging, injury-prone player who relies on his speed seems like a bit of a gamble to me. Pagan has gotten at least 600 plate appearances just twice in his career. His new contract will result in his average salary more than doubling over the $4.85 million he made in 2012.
The big loser out of the Pagan contract is the Phillies, who could have easily afforded the $40 million he's getting and reportedly were heavily in on Pagan after losing out on Upton to the Braves. I'd assume that the length of the deal, not the money, was the overall sticking point between Pagan and Philadelphia. In one aspect, I appreciate Ruben Amaro's newfound restraint in tossing around contracts to players on the wrong side of 30 like they're going out of style, but on the other hand, there isn't much left out there after Pagan. Essentially, the Phillies options are now Michael Bourn (who wants six years and $100 million, will be 30 in three and a half weeks, and relies more on his speed than any center fielder on the market), Josh Hamilton (who is 31, likely not a center fielder anymore, and will require a huge financial commitment), and Shane Victorino (who is the oldest of the bunch at 32, coming off of the worst season of his career, and likely can't play center capably anymore). It's a tough spot for Philadelphia, and Amaro might need to consider dipping his toe into the trade market.
But back to the Giants. With Pagan locked up long-term and Hunter Pence around for 2013 in right field, the team can now play around with a variety of options in left field to replace the departed Melky Cabrera. Cabrera's short-term replacement last season, Gregor Blanco, performed well, but he's not a long-term solution. The future of prospect Gary Brown is cloudy after he came down to Earth in 2012. Victorino could be an option for them after he spent the final two months of 2012 on the west coast with the Dodgers. Things are getting interesting this winter, and the Giants aren't in a bad position right now.