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MLB Trade Rumors: Could Hunter Pence Be A Fit For Phillies?

The most popular rumor for the Phillies as far as when they may be looking for in the trade market is a right handed outfield bat. The name that could potentially fill that desire that has been the most popular is Astros OF Hunter Pence. There's a lot to like to about Pence. He's above average both at the plate and with the glove. He's under team control until 2014, although he's not cheap. He's 28 and in his primem would provide a needed right hand bat and would be a nice upgrade over Raul Ibanez, whose contract is up after this year.

In fact, ESPN's Matt Meyers named Pence to the Phillies as one of his five NL trades that "should happen."

The Phillies could really use a right-handed bat, particularly in the outfield, to balance out their left-leaning lineup. Pence won't be a free agent for another year and a half, so he wouldn't be a half-season rental. Therefore, the Phils would need to give up their top pitching prospect in order to get him. The Astros are the worst team in baseball and years away from competing. They've already shown a willingness to deal their "name" players, when they moved Oswalt and Lance Berkman at last year's deadline. Pence is good, but not good enough to build the franchise around, and should be moved for a younger, cheaper player.

The top pitching prospect he refers to there is Jarred Cosart. Plus, it's likely that they may also have to include John Mayberry Jr (which they'd have no problem doing if they got Pence) as well as guys like power hitting prospect Domingo Santana, Michael Stutes or other major pitching prospects Brody Colvin or Jesse Biddle. Point is, it would be a heavy price to pay. As The Good Phight pointed out recently, the Phillies have done a few trades with Houston, who is currently run by ex Phils GM Ed Wade, and they've basically paid retail on every occasion. So the Phils will need to pay up if they want Pence.

However, as Taco Pal, who wrote the aforementioned piece also said, is this the time to mortgage your future?

Well in my view, the entire minor league system should be untouchable unless there’s an absolute steal on the table. The Phillies have a 97.4% chance of making the playoffs. How much is an extra player – any extra player – going to raise those odds? How much is an extra player going to raise the odds in the crapshoot that is the playoffs?

The Phillies do already have the best record in baseball. Barring a total collapse, the worst they can probably expect from this season is a wildcard berth. So would they be wise to trade away their best prospects for a notable upgrade in the outfield? As we learned last year with the Giants, the playoffs are often mostly just about getting lucky. Cody Ross is "just a guy" and yet he absolutely went off in the postseason. There's really no reason to think a guy like Raul Ibanez couldn't do the same. Just like there's no reason to think Hunter Pence would necessarily make a huge difference over the course or two or three series.

Of course, a move for Pence would not be about just this season. As we mentioned before, he is not eligible for free agency until 2014. So the move would be as much about setting up their 2012 and 2013 outfield (Pence, Victorino, Brown) as it would be about winning this year. Back in April, Eric Seidman of The Brotherly Glove stressed this very point in a piece about a potential deal for Pence.

Any fix the Phillies implement must also take next year, and potentially the following year, into consideration. The Phillies should steer clear of outfielders reaching free agency after the season unless an extension can be worked out. Otherwise, the team would subsequently find itself right back at square one in terms of seeking outfield reinforcement.

The most optimal type of player is one under team control — meaning he cannot yet become a free agent and is instead eligible for salary arbitration — who produces at a level better than, or equivalent to, the incumbent crop of free agents.

The conclusion of the above paragraph is that the guy who makes the most sense and fits those criteria best is Pence. It's an excellent look at the situation and I recommend giving it a read.

Major League Baseball's non-waiver trade deadline in July 31st