Pence-sylvania: Phils acquire Astros outfielder
Philadelphia sends four Minor League prospects to Houston
PHILADELPHIA -- Hunter Pence had heard the speculation he could be traded to Philadelphia, so he approached Roy Halladay earlier this month at the All-Star Game in Phoenix and asked him about everything Philly.
Halladay happily obliged.
"I didn't think of it as a sales pitch at the time, but I think I did a pretty good job," Halladay said.
The Phillies sent prospects Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Singleton, Josh Zeid and a player to be named to the Astros on Friday for Pence, who becomes the Phils' everyday right fielder in their push to win their second World Series in four years. The Phillies also received $1 million from Houston to offset the roughly $2.3 million Pence is owed this season to keep them under the $178 million luxury tax threshold.
This is the third consecutive season the Phillies have made a blockbuster trade on July 29. They acquired Cliff Lee in 2009 and Roy Oswalt in 2010.
"He asked me how I liked it," Halladay said of Pence. "Of course, with me it's been everything I thought it would be. I think he's excited to come here and play."
Pence certainly seemed to be excited.
"See you tomorrow, Philadelphia!" he said on his Twitter account (@HunterPence9).
The Phillies shipped their top two prospects to Houston to acquire Pence. MLB.com ranked Cosart and Singleton the 37th and 38th best prospects in baseball. Zeid has shown promise, especially since moving to the bullpen this season with Double-A Reading. The fourth prospect will be selected from a pool of players, although he is not expected to be a top prospect.
Philadelphia pulled the trigger for a couple reasons:
1. The Phils know they have a limited window to win the World Series, and they want to take advantage while they can.
2. The Phillies could stomach sending their top prospects to Houston because Pence cannot become a free agent until after the 2013 season.
"We tried to address a need we felt was a missing piece," Philadelphia general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "I think we acquired in a lot of ways somebody that is extremely well rounded, the type of player that we'd like to have here in Philadelphia. ... He's got a lot of energy. He's a guy that I think our fans will take to really well. I think control is a good part. If you know the way we operate ... I don't like rentals. I don't believe in those. I guess there is a time and place to go that route. In this case as in most cases, if you look at the trades we've made, very few of them were your classic rental. Certainly that's a huge element for us in that transaction."
Pence, 28, is hitting .309 with 11 home runs and 62 RBIs. He has a .356 on-base percentage and a .472 slugging percentage. He should help a lineup that has struggled against left-handed pitching.
Pence, who will wear No. 3, is expected to hit fifth.
"I think he's a very hard, hustling player," Phils manager Charlie Manuel said. "I think that he likes to play. He gives you everything he's got. He's got talent. He's got power. He's strong the other way hitting the ball. He's a good player."
Pence's arrival means Domonic Brown could be optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He has hit .246 with five homers and 19 RBIs in 183 at-bats this season. The Phillies said they remain high on Brown, although he does not figure to contribute as much this season.
"He's kind of learning on the job," Amaro said of Brown. "He's done a nice job for us here. It's not a knock on Domonic Brown by any stretch of the imagination. We believe and hope he's going to be a Phillie for a long time. I think for us, again, it's one of those moves we made for the present, but for the future, certainly, Dom is part of that."
But make no mistake: this is a move made for October 2011. The Phillies are trying to win the World Series this year. Having Pence beyond this season is nice, but they had the best record in baseball without him. They hope his arrival puts them over the top.
"I think our front office knows we're in a special time here in Philadelphia," Chase Utley said. "We have a good team and if they feel like there's some room for improvement they're going to make that move."
"I'm glad we had those kinds of guys [prospects] we could offer to get somebody," Halladay said. "I know it's a sacrifice they're making down the road, but as far as a player being here right now I'm glad they were there."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.