SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Hunter Pence got the last laugh, and it had nothing to do with his new contract.
San Francisco Giants president Larry Baer and Pence held an intense, 15-minute meeting after Friday night’s game to work out details of a $90 million, five-year contract.
“I told him how much I appreciated winning the Willie Mac award,” said Pence, with a sly grin.
Pence and the Giants finalized the contract on Sunday, a deal that keeps the outfielder off the free-agent market.
The announcement was made at a news conference before the season finale against San Diego, the Giants’ final game as defending World Series champions. The Giants hope it sends fans a message that the team will work to pursue its players who are eligible for free agency, a group that includes Tim Lincecum and Javier Lopez.
“The first priority is the core of our club,” assistant general manager Bobby Evans said. “That’s the reason Hunter Pence is signed.”
Pence gets $15 million next year, $18 million in 2015 and $19 million in each of the following three seasons.
He was given a standing ovation by fans when he came out to stretch before the game and again when he batted in the first inning.
“I realized how intelligent this organization is,” Pence said. “They want to win. I’m extremely happy.”
Pence began the day with a .282 average, a career-best 27 homers and 96 RBIs. He became the first Giants player to appear in every regular-season game since Alvin Dark played in 154 in 1954.
“I’m motivated to become a better ballplayer,” said Pence, who asked for and received a full a no-trade provision. “I’m looking forward to the next five years and I’m going to give it all I’ve got.”
The two-time All-Star was acquired from Philadelphia in July last year and was credited with being instrumental in San Francisco’s second title in three years.
“He’s a true leader and a role model for the organization,” Baer said. “It’s a credit to how he holds himself on and off the field.”
Pence became the second-highest-paid Giants position player behind catcher Buster Posey, who has a $167 million, nine-year contract.
“This is a class organization,” outfielder Angel Pagan said. “They take a lot of pride in winning. That’s what we’re here for. I’m sure that’s why Hunter wanted to stay here.”
Pence was an immediate hit when he joined the Giants last year, despite his offensive struggles early.
“I don’t know how we could replace what Hunter does,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “There’s no drama with this guy. He just wants to play baseball.”