Trade Deadline Recap: Phillies Acquire Pence
The general consensus among most media outlets in the days leading up to the trade deadline seemed to converge on the idea that Carlos Beltran was the best hitter available. While Beltran was in the midst of a fine season and has been a useful bat for the bulk of his career, there was a more valuable option rumored to be available on the trade market. What wasn’t certain, however, was whether or not he was indeed actually available.
As the deadline grew closer, it became fairly evident that Houston Astros GM Ed Wade would be looking to move some of the veterans on his team in the hopes of restocking a barren farm system. A secondary goal seemed to be his desire to help the team from a long term point of view, as his job security seemed to be in question considering the organization has a new ownership group set to formally take control within the next few weeks. Wade was expected to move veterans and perhaps a pitcher or two prior to the deadline. What wasn’t certain was whether he’d actually field offers on the team’s franchise player – right fielder Hunter Pence.
Despite consistently changing rumors regarding his availability, once teams learned there was a chance that he could be had the race was on to field the best offer. The Braves, Phillies, Giants (before acquiring Beltran), and others all expressed interest to varying levels. Through much of the process, however, it seemed to be a two-team race between Atlanta and Philadelphia. Ultimately it was GM Ruben Amaro who won out, getting Wade to agree to a deal on July 29th in which the Phillies would receive Pence in exchange for Jonathan Singleton, Jarred Cosart, Josh Zeid, and a PTBNL.
Pence has been in the midst of another typical season for him. At the time of the trade he was batting .308/.356/.471 with 11 HR and 62 RBI through 399 at bats – numbers in line with his career averages. He had been selected to his second career All Star Game earlier in the month and still have two years of team control ahead of him. Pence, more importantly, had become the face of the Astros franchise, especially after they parted ways with veteran Lance Berkman at the 2010 trade deadline.
With Philadelphia he will help balance out a lefty-heavy lineup and will improve the team’s outfield defense. Pence is a gamer – he hustles, gets dirty, and gives his all on every play. He’s just the type of player any team would want in their lineup.
Singleton, 19, was an 8th round selection in the 2009 Draft who has developed into one of the premier prospects in baseball. A natural first baseman who is blocked at the position by Ryan Howard, the Phillies have had little success trying Singleton in the outfield as his offensive production took a great decline when playing the outfield and despite having good speed he hasn’t shown the athleticism to hold down the position full time. This season he’s batted .284/.387/.413 with 9 HR and 47 RBI through 320 at bats at High-A.
Cosart, 21, was Singleton’s teammate at High-A this season. In 19 starts (108.0 innings) he’s posted a 9-8 record and 3.92 ERA on the season. The native Texan (he originates from League City which is about 30 miles southeast of Houston), has shown a great deal of promise since being drafted in the 38th round of the 2008 Draft. Like Singleton, he has developed into one of the game’s premier prospects. However, both players are still a long ways away from reaching the Majors so Houston is banking on their continued development and high upside, rather than trading Pence for more MLB-ready talent.
Zeid, 24, has split his professional career between the rotation and the bullpen. Most scouts seem to believe his stuff plays better out of the bullpen which is actually where he’s found the most success. With Double-A this season he’s posted a 2-3 record and 5.65 ERA through 63.2 innings of work. Those numbers include 11 starts he made at the beginning of the season but he’s pitched significantly better since being moved back to the bullpen.