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Astros now showing “willingness” to trade Hunter Pence

Jul 20, 2011, 7:44 PM EDT

pence getty wide Getty Images

On June 28, Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com heard from sources that the Astros were “unlikely” to trade outfielder Hunter Pence at this summer’s deadline. That remained the line of thinking (and the line of reporting) among most rumor-producing baseball writers through the first three weeks of July.

Until this evening.

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Astros are now showing a “willingness” to trade Pence and rival executives now “expect” that he will be moved.

The Braves and Pirates have already expressed interest, and the list of suitors will only grow as the July 31 trade deadline approaches.

By far Houston’s best player, Pence has hit .315/.356/.478 with 11 home runs and 61 RBI through 399 plate appearances this season. He’s not overly smooth defensively, but he has decent range and a strong arm.

Pence is making $6.9 million this season and could reach $9 million or more next year via salary arbitration. The Astros are also likely to demand a hefty package of young talent in return. A deal isn’t going to come easy, but Pence is now the second-best available bat on this year’s trade market behind the Mets’ Carlos Beltran.

  1. The Baseball Gods - Jul 20, 2011 at 8:06 PM

    “A deal isn’t going to come easy, but Pence is now the second-best available bat on this year’s trade market behind the Mets’ Carlos Beltran.” Ummm, maybe 3-5 years ago, but I’d definitely have to say that I’d much rather have Hunter Pence than Carlos Beltran….and it’s not even close.

    • Drew Silva - Jul 20, 2011 at 8:14 PM

      As far as an impact bat down the stretch this season, you’d prefer Pence to Beltran? That’s sorta ridiculous.

      • The Baseball Gods - Jul 20, 2011 at 8:21 PM

        Well lets compare the two:

        Carlos Beltran – 34 years old, 92 GP, 97 hits, 14 HR, 59 RBI, .291 Avg, 3 SB (**free agent after the season)

        Hunter Pence – 28 years old, 92 GP, 118 hits, 11 HR, 61 RBI, .316 Avg, 7 SB
        (**arbitration eligible after the season)

        …..so now you tell me who you would give up high level prospects for in a trade?

      • drmonkeyarmy - Jul 20, 2011 at 8:25 PM

        I don’t know….Pence is probably more reliable in the fact that he shouldn’t break down. Furthermore, adding in their salaries and that Pence isn’t a free agent until 2014…Pence is probably the better get going forward. Drew, you usually aren’t condescending but your above comment is a bit jerky. You make it sound like a ridiculous comparison and it really is not.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Jul 20, 2011 at 8:27 PM

        Baseball Gods,
        He is going to throw their OPS’s back at you. I agree with you, but that is the counter argument. Pence doesn’t walk a lot and Beltran has a smidge more power.

      • The Baseball Gods - Jul 20, 2011 at 8:28 PM

        It’s his Mets colors coming out and he is just trying to push up the value of what the Mets can get in return for him.

      • Drew Silva - Jul 20, 2011 at 8:29 PM

        Pence will make close to $10M via arbitration next season. Let’s not act like he’s a bargain. And citing batting average when comparing two players is pointless. It’s an empty stat.

        Beltran’s OPS: .911. Beltran’s fWAR: 3.8.

        Pence’s OPS: .834. Pence’s fWAR: 2.9.

      • The Baseball Gods - Jul 20, 2011 at 8:30 PM

        Any GM would rather have Hunter Pence than Carlos Beltran at this point in their careers. I guarantee it.

      • The Baseball Gods - Jul 20, 2011 at 8:32 PM

        And nobody said Pence would be a bargain. Teams would much rather have a guy under control than a two month rental when they are considering giving up good young prospects.

      • The Baseball Gods - Jul 20, 2011 at 8:33 PM

        ….and if batting average is an empty stat, then why is the player with the highest batting average considered the Batting Champion and not the guy with the highest OPS?

      • Drew Silva - Jul 20, 2011 at 8:39 PM

        Ugh.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Jul 20, 2011 at 8:43 PM

        Drew,
        Calling batting average an empty stat is going too far the other way with the sabermetric stuff and you know it. Hits drive in runs not walks and that is what ultimately baseball is about….scoring and preventing runs. The fact that Pence is under control for an additional two years makes him an attractive option for teams more so than Beltran who is likely to leave in the winter.

      • paperlions - Jul 20, 2011 at 8:52 PM

        No one said BA was an empty stat, but it is a horribly incomplete, inadequate, and flawed metric to assess offensive impact….feel free to look at the list of recent “batting champions” and decide if you think they were the most valuable hitters that year….and to answer your question, tradition is the reason that BA is used to assign the “batting champion” moniker….the most important thing a hitter can do is not make outs.

      • The Baseball Gods - Jul 20, 2011 at 8:55 PM

        Oh paperlions….why don’t you actually read the other posts before claiming that nobody said batting average was an empty stat. Drew Silva, who wrote this post, specifically said “And citing batting average when comparing two players is pointless. It’s an empty stat.”

      • The Baseball Gods - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:04 PM

        BTW paperlions….the last two MVP winners in the AL were Josh Hamilton and Joe Mauer and both had the highest batting average in the AL. Last year Joey Votto won the NL MVP and he had the second highest batting average in the NL. In 2008 Pujols won the NL MVP and had the 2nd highest batting average in the NL. So I’d say there is a pretty significant correlation between batting average and being the best hitter in the league.

      • The Baseball Gods - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:07 PM

        ….and every NL MVP winner since 1990 has had a batting average over .300. Also, the only AL MVP to have a sub .300 batting average since 1979 was ARod in 2003 when he hit .298 (excluding pitchers that won the award obviously).

      • prionogenic - Jul 20, 2011 at 11:32 PM

        Just because a player has a higher BA than another doesn’t necessarily make him a better player than one with a lower BA. Your examples of players that have won MVP’s that have top 3 BA is not a convincing argument because they probably also had a very high OPS as well.

        The logistical reason I would rather have Beltran is because he’s a rental that will be free for the team trading for him, he might cost fewer/lesser prospect than Pence, and you’re not on the hook for a couple years if you have talent in the upper levels of the minor leagues. Moreover, Beltran’s hitting better now than the beginning of the season, which if you just look at the entire season as an average you don’t appreciate the upwards trend in his productivity. With more power, he could provide a bigger boost for a contender down the stretch run.

      • hittfamily - Jul 21, 2011 at 1:08 AM

        Ultimately, a trade for a player with 1 year of eligibility left or one who will be a free agent isnt about next year or the year after. It is about trying to win the maximum number of games in the 70+ games remaining this year. I’ll take the one with the higher OPS.

    • pjmarn6 - Jul 21, 2011 at 3:14 PM

      I remember when baseball games were free to watch on tv and hear on radio and seats were reasonably priced. Now we have $2000 seats at yankee stadium, no free radio or tv and players get multimillion dollar salaries for hitting .250 or having 5.00 era. How has this enourmous increase in salaries and forced payment to hear or watch the game benefitted the fan? What value extra has been added to the game to legitmatize this?

  2. Spiro Agnew - Jul 20, 2011 at 8:40 PM

    I would take beltran over pence purely for his past performance in the post season (not to mention he just tied the game with a 2 run homer…)

    • drmonkeyarmy - Jul 20, 2011 at 8:43 PM

      Yeah, he bombed that.

  3. proudlycanadian - Jul 20, 2011 at 8:57 PM

    Personally, I would rather have Pence; however, I do not understand why Houston would trade him.

  4. Jonny 5 - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:34 PM

    In the Phils position Beltran for a lesser sacrifice may be the smarter move than Pence. Just because to get Pence we’ll probably lose Brown. Beltran? Probably not.

    • The Baseball Gods - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:40 PM

      I disagree completely that they would have to give up Brown. Once again they would be dealing with Ed Wade who isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed when it comes to trading away big names. The Mets will hold the Phillies hostage for Beltran and he would just be a rental. The biggest difference is money because supposedly the Mets would eat most, if not all, of Beltrans salary for a better prospect haul. Pence is due to make at least 10 million next season through arbitration.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:45 PM

        I said in another post, I think Jon Singleton, Cosart, and somebody like DeFratus get the deal done for Pence I believe. In my opinion, the only trade in which Brown goes the other way is in my pipe dream trade for Matt Kemp.

      • Jonny 5 - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:55 PM

        I don’t know. No one knows what Amaro will do. It’ll make us all say holy sh!t, I’m pretty sure of that. It’s like a game with this guy. Him and Gillick in their PJ’s handing baseball cards back and forth and building line ups “how about this guy?”, with a cell phone on each ear. Well, that’s how I envision it anyway.

    • sasquash20 - Jul 20, 2011 at 11:29 PM

      I don’t want a Mets cast off who is finally healthy. I used to call the Mets gay, but thats an insult to gay people. The Mets stink worse then my nuts do. Give me Pence, throw him behind Howard and watch Howard explode. And give up whatever you have to. Brown, or any prospect we have to give up. Brown is young and may be a stud, but it isn’t happening this year. When he is a stud if he ever is a stud we will probably need pitching at that point. Who cares trade every prospect! Go for it now! The Red Sox are loaded, the Yankees are stacked (and they didn’t even get there 2nd stud pitcher yet) Lets go for it all now. GO PHILLIES!

  5. royalsfaninfargo - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:36 PM

    Ken Rosenthal + Buster Olney= 0 for trades untill they happen, my “sources” say they are full of s***. Instead of citing “sources” I wish either of these two guys would actually call a trade before it happens. After that I will believe their “sources”.

  6. ajbarrell - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:48 PM

    Id rather have beltran, He will cost less to get and his offensive stats arent inflated by playing in houston half his games. The mets home park suppresses offense a bit also look at David wright’s hom/away splits for solid proof of that.

    Look at pences home/away splits vs beltrans. Thats why stats like fwar and some of the other newer ones are better then BA/OPS since they dont factor the places they play like the newer stats do.

    If im the pirates i wouldnt touch pence with a 10ft pole because right handed power is destroyed at there home field for example.

    • The Baseball Gods - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:54 PM

      Do you do any research before just making blank statements? Beltrans numbers are actually better at home than on the road, and Pence has more HR’s on the road than at home in 42 less at bats.

      • The Baseball Gods - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:56 PM

        I meant “blanket statements”

      • jbartdavis - Jul 20, 2011 at 10:15 PM

        Why dont you talk about his other away stats? Or do you feel you won the argument? Pence has a career .789 ops away from cracker jack park. Pedestrian at best.

  7. drmonkeyarmy - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:56 PM

    Melky Cabrera pulled mid game and seen shaking hands with his teammates.

    • The Baseball Gods - Jul 20, 2011 at 9:58 PM

      ….interesting….excellent reporting.

    • The Baseball Gods - Jul 21, 2011 at 11:17 AM

      Apparently he just had an upset stomach. Would have been nice to get that report prior to 2 hours ago.

  8. ajbarrell - Jul 20, 2011 at 10:15 PM

    G AB H 1B 2B 3B HR R RBI BB SO SB CS AVG
    Home 51 207 68 45 17 2 4 25 35 16 43 5 0 .329
    Away 40 165 49 35 7 0 7 20 26 8 39 2 0 .297

    Pences home/away hes hitting .30 worse, 10less doubles walks half as much thats a pretty good split difference, from being a “Allstar” to being “above average” Would you give up tons of prospects and pay him 10+mil each of the next 2 years to be Above average for your team?

    Beltran started slow but hes been on fire in july has the better post season track record and if your wrong dont resign him. The lesser cost norisk on future contracts and the mets picking up most of his tab make it a no brainer

    • drmonkeyarmy - Jul 20, 2011 at 10:19 PM

      Umm… he has more HR on the road and the other numbers sans AVG just might be done a tad because he has played 11 less games and had 42 less at bats on the road.

      • ajbarrell - Jul 20, 2011 at 10:26 PM

        He does but far less doubles, Mostly wanted to point out the BA diff since thats thebaseballgods main stat it seems. Pence doesnt walk, doesnt hit for great power plays average defense. Give me the guy that hits for the same power, Walks a ton more and plays a decent RF and risk/reward wise is far less risky for simular or more reward anyday.

        Only question with beltran is will he get hurt otherwise hes one of the better hitters in the NL. if we assume he wont hes by far the better choice, and the risk he will lowers the price to aquire him.

      • jbartdavis - Jul 20, 2011 at 10:35 PM

        His ops away is 65 points lower, which stat is irrespective of games played

    • The Baseball Gods - Jul 20, 2011 at 11:16 PM

      The dude is batting .297 on the road……since when is .297 a bad batting average?

  9. ajbarrell - Jul 20, 2011 at 10:17 PM

    thats just this year also which is greatly better away from home then for his career, maybe hes figured out hitting away from home but betting 10mil per year PLUS top end prospects for that gamble is pretty steep imo.

    • The Baseball Gods - Jul 20, 2011 at 11:15 PM

      But instead you would rather give up top end prospects for a two month rental? Makes no sense at all. Also, 10 million for Hunter Pence is a very fair number, especially when you look at guys like Dan Uggla, Jayson Werth, Adam Dunn, etc who are just stealing money.

  10. aclassyguyfromaclassytown - Jul 20, 2011 at 11:07 PM

    I think Beltran is over hyped. His best years are way behind him, and he’s injury prone. I wouldn’t want him on my softball team. I’m serious about that. What can I say, I’m a Phillies fan.

  11. thekingdave - Jul 21, 2011 at 12:04 AM

    A) Pence is younger and under team control
    B) Imagine those numbers in a lineup that actually has major league hitters

  12. foreverchipper10 - Jul 21, 2011 at 11:39 AM

    Somebody needs to call the WAAHHHMBULANCE here.

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