Giants, Pagan agree on four-year contract
Free agent gets $40 million deal to patrol center field again
Published: Monday, December 3, 2012 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, December 3, 2012 at 10:29 p.m.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Giants had two items on their winter meetings checklist, and less than 24 hours after they checked into the Gaylord Opryland Resort, that list was cut in half. The team reached a four-year deal with center fielder Angel Pagan on Monday, pending a physical that will be taken later this week.
The deal is worth $40 million and solidifies the top of the lineup for a Giants team that returns the vast majority of the 2012 World Series championship roster.
“It's a great feeling to have him back,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He's a great fit for us. That's a pretty big need when you need a center fielder and a leadoff hitter, and this took care of both.”
In his first experience with free agency, Pagan, 31, tested the market for more than a month after the World Series parade before ultimately returning to San Francisco. The Giants had hoped to bring him back on a three-year deal, but when other teams got heavily involved in the bidding, the Giants ponied up for a player who was their No.
“The fact that he plays such a key role at the top of the order and in the middle (of the diamond) was a huge motivator,” Giants vice president of baseball operations Bobby Evans said.
Evans said the Giants didn't pursue “big-ticket items” such as Josh Hamilton and Michael Bourn, instead placing the vast majority of their focus on Pagan and second baseman Marco Scutaro, also a free agent. The Giants continue to negotiate with Scutaro's side and are hopeful that they can bring back the player who so successfully hit right behind Pagan in the order.
Scutaro, 37, is likely looking at his last big-league deal, and his market expanded Monday when the New York Yankees announced that third baseman Alex Rodriguez would miss four to six months with a hip injury.
“In (Scutaro), you have the ability to play second, third and even shortstop,” Evans said. “That gives him an additional market. Any time you have a year like he had, it's going to make clubs look long and hard.”
With Pagan locked up, Scutaro's return has become the No.
The Giants will take more time to sort out the other items on their to-do list. Gregor Blanco is the current starter in left field, but Evans said the club would like to find a right-handed platoon partner for Blanco and add depth in the outfield. Francisco Peguero will get an opportunity to compete for a spot in spring training, and the Giants will give a long look to top prospect Gary Brown, once thought of as the future center fielder.
Brown had an up-and-down season in Double-A, but the Giants are optimistic that he eventually can break through despite the presence of Pagan.
“It's a good problem to have,” Evans said. “I think Gary will put himself in the big leagues at the right time.”
The timing ended up being perfect for Pagan, who hit .288 with 95 runs, 29 stolen bases and an NL-best 15 triples in 2012. Pagan hit just .188 in the postseason but had leadoff homers in two Giants playoff victories and made a memorable sliding catch to help preserve a Game 5 win over the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Division Series.
Because the deal is not official until after the physical, Pagan was not immediately available for comment. But on Twitter, his wife, Windy, thanked Giants fans for believing in her husband and posted a photo of the happy couple celebrating with a bottle of champagne.
The offseason hasn't been quite as festive for Brian Wilson, who was non-tendered Friday after failing to reach an agreement with the Giants. Evans said they haven't ruled out bringing Wilson back, and Bochy intended to call his former closer to smooth things over after the two sides failed to see eye-to-eye during negotiations.
“Sometimes things don't go as smoothly as you would like, but you don't forget the contribution he made to the Giants,” Bochy said. “It's just part of the business.”
Pagan saw the other side of the business over the past month, and ultimately found common ground with the Giants on a deal that left both sides happy.
“He's pumped and excited,” Bochy said. “I'm very excited about having him back and leading off and playing center field.”
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