Free agent outfielder Angel Pagan, who put up nearly a 5 fWAR season in 2012 with the San Francisco Giants, has agreed to a four-year deal worth $40M to return to the Bay area to man center field and wreak havoc on the base paths.
Pagan only needs to be worth roughly 2-2.5 fWAR annually for this deal to break even, a figure he has surpassed three out of the past four seasons and something that should not be a problem even if he tails off considerably in the final year of his contract.
Pagan brings plus base running to the Giants, proven statistically by BsR where his +8.2 runs on the bases ranked fourth in all of baseball in 2012 and his +21.5 runs ranks third in all of baseball since 2010 behind only Michael Bourn and Drew Stubbs. Pagan has averaged nearly 33 steals per season since 2010 and I see no reason to believe this will not carry over for at least the next few seasons. Even as his speed declines, he should still have value on the base paths due to his intelligence and keen base running abilities.
His speed helps him to be around an average defender in center with a career UZR of -2.5 in nearly 4000 innings at the position, largely due to the outlier -14.3 UZR he posted in 2011, which equates to a -0.8 UZR per 150 games. Not great but not bad, especially for a guy who is worth nearly a run on the bases and is above-average with the bat.
The only cause for concern I have is that his walk rate is below the league-average and that if his speed does tail off sooner rather than later, he will have to be moved to left field where he loses significant value.
Pagan’s skill set, polar opposite of Mike Napoli‘s, is one that does fade faster as a player ages but this deal is a very fair deal that could be a major bargain if his speed holds up. And as it stands right now, with Pagan’s skill set and the Giants need to fill center, this is not a bad deal at all and the reward far outweighs the risk.