The Houston Astros have gone hot and cold on trading outfielder Hunter Pence. While he’s clearly their biggest trade chip, Pence is an important part of their roster and moving him would undoubtedly upset what’s left of the team’s fans. But, as of now, it appears more than likely Pence will be dealt before baseball’s trade deadline on Sunday.
The Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves appear to be the top two teams in the running to land Pence, with the Texas Rangers apparently falling out of the race. There are as many as six teams (including the Reds and Red Sox) still involved in the talks to some extent, but the Phillies and Braves have clearly distanced themselves from the pack at this point.
Now that Carlos Beltran has been moved, Pence is clearly the top outfielder on the market and could fetch a substantial return.
Earlier in the week the Astros reportedly turned down a pretty rich package from Philadelphia in exchange for Pence. The Phillies are said to have offered their best pitching prospect, Jarred Cosart, their best hitting prospect, Jonathan Singleton, and another pitching prospect. Pence is a bargain, as he’s making $6.9 million this year and can’t become a free agent until after the 2013 season. That means the Phillies may have to part with outfielder Domonic Brown to make a deal happen.
Pence is just 28 and is having an excellent year. He’s hitting .307 with 11 home runs, 62 RBI and an .821 OPS. If the Phillies can manage to land him, they’d further solidify themselves as the favorite in the National League.