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Trading Places: Hunter Pence Traded to the Phillies
Nate Springfield | Saturday July 30th, 2011
Pence brings balance and consistency to the Phillies. (Icon SMI)
Pence brings balance and consistency to the Phillies. (Icon SMI)
With less than 48 hours before the July 31 trade deadline, the Philadelphia Phillies pried away Houston Astros outfielder Hunter Pence and cash considerations for minor league prospects Jonathan Singleton, Jarred Cosart, Josh Zeid, and a player to be named later.

Pence became the best available bat on the trade market after the San Francisco Giants had acquired Carlos Beltran from the New York Mets earlier in the week.  There were reportedly eight teams said to be making offers for Pence, even with the Astros high asking price for the talented outfielder, who is still under team control through the 2013 season.
 
Phillies manager, Charlie Manuel, has already indicated that the 28-year old Pence will be the every day right fielder for Philadelphia, and he plans to hit him fifth in the lineup.  The Texas native brings a triple-slash line of .309/.356/.472 with 11 home runs to the City of Brotherly Love, but the biggest effect he may have in the lineup is his right-handed bat balancing out the previously left-handed heavy middle of the batting order.  The Phillies did give up a couple of their system's top prospects (Singleton and Cosart) in this trade, but Pence will be staying in Philadelphia for the next two seasons for a very reasonable price, in the prime of his career.

With Philadelphia acquiring Pence, the team has decided to send Domonic Brown to Triple-A Lehigh Valley so that he can have everyday playing time and regular-at bats.  Charlie Manuel feels comfortable enough with Raul Ibanez and his .245/.291/.418 slash-line in left field.

The Houston Astros reportedly had a high asking price for Pence, and they got what they asked for by acquiring the two of the top three minor league prospects, according to Baseball America, in Philadephia's system. Jonathan Singleton was drafted in the eighth round as a first baseman, but was soon moved into the outfield, because of Ryan Howard at first base.  The 21-year old, 6-foot 2-inch lefty was ranked as the Bo. 39 best prospect in baseball by Baseball America in their 2011 preseason rankings.  Jarred Cosart, also 21, is a hard throwing right handed pitcher who was drafted out of high school in the June 2008 amateur draft.  Baseball America ranked him as the No.70 overall prospect entering the 2011 season.  Both Singleton and Cosart were playing at Philadephia's High-A Clearwater affiliate previous to the trade. 

The third prospect coming over in the trade, Josh Zeid, should not be overlooked even though he is not as highly ranked of a prospect.  Zeid, a 24-year old right handed pitcher, has spent the 2011 season at Double-A Reading for the Phillies.  This season he has struggled with a 5.65 ERA and 1.41 WHIP, but he is still sporting a 2.07 strike-out-to-walk (K/BB) ratio and over his minor league career has allowed less than one home run-per-nine innings pitched (0.6 HR/9) and averaged just less than a strike out an inning with an 8.6 strike out-per-nine innings pitched (K/9) mark.  He does not project to be a top of the rotation pitcher, but could see time as a middle reliever or swing man before either Singleton or Cosart see time in Houston.

The addition of these three players give a big boost to what was one of the weakest farm systems in the major leagues.  This trade will definitely not be popular with the fans in Houston, but takes the organization in the right direction for its future.

From a fantasy baseball perspective, this trade probably helps the hitters around Pence in Philadelphia's lineup more so than help Pence himself.  In most leagues, all the players in the middle of the Phillies' lineup are already owned, but look for Ryan Howard to have a big second half now that he has a consistent hitter, with power potential, hitting behind him every day.  In Houston, Jason Bourgeois sees a big boost in value, as he will likely take over the right field duties left vacant by Pence.  Bourgeois is a speedster who has 20 stolen bases in 52 games this season.
Nate SpringfieldNate Springfield joined the Baseball Press crew for the 2010 season and hosts the site's podcast. His love for the game has grown thanks to fantasy baseball, with a specialty in NL-only auction leagues. You can contact him at nate@baseballpress.com or follow him on Twitter @NateSpringfield.