The Hunter Pence Trade

The Phils' New Right Fielder

Ruben Amaro Jr. strikes again, acquiring an All-Star at the trade deadline for the third consecutive year.  Of course, that doesn’t include the December 2009 trade that brought Roy Halladay to Philly.  Some bullet-point reactions to the trade:

On Pence:

  • Phillie fans should probably temper expectations for Pence to some degree.  Yes, he’s a (fairly) young, 2-time All-Star that can do a ton of nice things.  But he’s far from a superstar.
  • In some ways, Pence can be compared to Jayson Werth, but with much less patience at the plate, worse defense, but more consistent as a hitter.
  • An underrated plus for Pence: he has never been hurt.
  • Another plus: his stats don’t blow you away, but he’s been incredibly consistent.  He hit exactly 25 home runs each of the last three seasons.  Though he’s well below that pace this year.
  • In 658 plate appearances last year, he walked 41 times.  He’s on a similar pace this year.  That is a very low walk rate.
  • His batting average on balls in play (BABIP) this year is .368, over 60 points higher than the last three years.  That means his .308 average this year is a fluke that can be expected to drop significantly.
  • He appears to be a guy that could’ve really used the Davey Lopes Base-Stealing School.  He has good speed, but his stolen base percentage is just over 60% for his career.  Though he is 7 for 8 so far this year.  He stole a career-high 18 bags last year.
  • He has been a significantly better hitter in his career at his home park in Houston, a hitter’s park on par with the Bank.  So we can’t expect any CBP Bump in his production.
  • While it’s true that the Phils will have Pence for less than market value over the next two seasons, he’ll be far from cheap.  He could be expected to cost roughly $25 mil. over the two seasons.
  • All that being said, there can’t be any doubt that Pence makes the Phillies a better team immediately.  Charlie has already said he expects to bat him 5th, with Victorino moving back up to 2nd, which I think makes a ton of sense.

On What They Traded:

  • On the plus side: the two top prospects they surrendered are both in A-Ball, and so much can go wrong in the development of a player between A-Ball and the majors.
  • As highly as Cosart is rated, he’s still considered high risk/high reward.  Seems like after the deal went down, some Phils people intimated they have concerns about his maturity.  Maybe true, maybe just trying to justify moving him.
  • Singleton is mostly seen as a “won’t-miss” ML bat, but he basically has no position and is 19-years-old. 
  • All in all, safe to say the Phils over-paid for what Pence is, though when you’re clearly in “win-now” mode, you often have to overpay.
  • List of prospects the Phils have now moved since July of 2009: Kyle Drabek, Carlos Carrasco, J.A. Happ, Jared Cosart, Michael Taylor, Jason Knapp, Jonathan Singleton, Anthony Gose, Travis D’Arnaud, Lou Marson, and Jason Donald.  Varying degrees of talent there, of course, but that’s a ton of young players to vacate from your organization over the span of just two calendar years.
  • On the one hand, you have to give credit to the front office and scouts for continually stocking desired young talent.  On the other hand, you have to wonder when the well runs dry.
  • I suspect Domonic Brown was never put on the table and the Phillies never had any intention of trading him.  I know his name was thrown around, but certainly a team like the Astros had something to gain by hinting that the Phillies were putting Brown out there.  It could’ve forced the Braves to flinch and include one of their prospects that they didn’t want to lose.

Overall:

I’m not sure if I would’ve made this trade or not.  It’s not that I am super-high on Cosart and Singleton, but more that I have my doubts about Hunter Pence.  I wonder, for example, if Cosart and Singleton could’ve been the centerpieces of a deal for a better player than Pence in the coming offseason.  Maybe a Matt Kemp?

But, we can’t forget that the Phils are virtually all-in for a title THIS year.  I can’t fault Amaro for his decision.  I love the aggressiveness.  The team has all the pieces to win it all.  Though another bullpen arm wouldn’t hurt.  Us Phillie fans are greedy all of a sudden, huh?

4 Replies to “The Hunter Pence Trade”

  1. And who gets designated? Mayberry? I like his bat off the bench, but that might make the most sense since he’d be our 5th outfielder.

  2. Really good questions. First complication, is that there’s still talk of them making a somewhat minor trade to improve the bench, maybe Giambi or Thome.

    As for left field, Ibanez and Brown have both been pretty solid over the past month. I’m sure the Phils are leaning toward Ibanez because he’s a veteran and Brown might look even more lost shifting over to the other side of the field.

    Basically, to answer your questions: I don’t know. Mayberry could certainly be shipped back. Gload could possibly be designated. He hasn’t been fully healthy or productive this year, and he doesn’t give you any defensive ability like Mayberry does. Also, not out of the question that Brown could go back to AAA. It would be odd timing, especially with him swinging fairly well over the past month, but I’m not sure the best thing for him now is sitting on the bench for the rest of the season.

  3. Oh, also, Francisco is a candidate to be designated. Probably a pretty good one. I have to think they favor Mayberry over him at this point.

    Also could see Wilson Valdez designated today to make room for Polanco.

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