Astros Trade Hunter Pence to the Phillies for Three Prospects, Player to Be Named Later


July 30, 2011

Astros Trade Hunter Pence to the Phillies for Three Prospects, Player to Be Named Later PHILADELPHIA — Hunter Pence got misty-eyed while saying goodbye to his teammates in the Houston Astros' dugout.

Those may be tears of joy in October.

Pence went from last place to the team with the best record in baseball, joining the Philadelphia Phillies and ending their season-long search for a right-handed-hitting outfielder.

"I think every competitor at the highest level wants to be in a pennant race, wants to be in a World Series," Pence said. "I'm pretty lucky. Now I get to jump on board with one of the best teams, and hopefully have an opportunity to do that."

The Phillies sent three minor leaguers, including their two top prospects, and a player to be named to Houston for Pence and cash on Friday.

Pence, a two-time All-Star, is the latest big-name player the Phillies have acquired from the Astros. They're hoping for similar results.

The Phillies got closer Brad Lidge in Nov. 2007 and Roy Oswalt last year. Lidge was 48 for 48 in save chances in 2008, leading the Phillies to their second World Series title. Oswalt was 7-1 down the stretch last season, helping the Phillies overcome a seven-game deficit to win their fourth straight NL East crown.

General manager Ed Wade made all three deals. He once served as the Phillies' GM, and fans joke that he deserves a World Series ring for sending Lidge here.

"The goal remains the same," Wade said. "It's to get good and stay good, and in order for us to do that it may entail some short-term sacrifices here."

Pence is expected to start in right field and bat fifth against Pittsburgh on Saturday night. The Phillies have been trying to find someone to hit behind Ryan Howard since letting Jayson Werth walk away in free agency.

Pence is hitting .308 with 11 homers and 62 RBIs this season. He batted .278 over the past three seasons, hit 25 homers each year and averaged 82 RBIs.

"He's a .300 hitter," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "He's got some power. He's a good player. I like him. Yes, I like him quite a bit."

The Phillies already had the best record in the majors without Pence. But this season won't be considered a success unless they win the World Series.

That's why GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. was willing to part with some elite prospects. The Astros got first baseman Jonathan Singleton and right-hander Jarred Cosart. But the Phillies kept talented outfielder Domonic Brown, who will lose his starting job to Pence, and rookie righty Vance Worley.

The 19-year-old Singleton was batting .282 with nine homers and 47 RBIs for Class-A Clearwater. He was selected by the Phillies in the eighth round of the 2009 draft.

The 21-year-old Cosart was 9-8 with a 3.92 ERA in 20 games, 19 starts, for Clearwater.

Houston also receives 25-year-old righty Josh Zeid, who was 2-3 with two saves and a 5.65 ERA in 21 games, 11 starts, for Double-A Reading.

"We believe Domonic Brown is going to be an outstanding player, but he's learning on the job," Amaro said. "This (acquisition) is not a knock on Domonic. We believe he'll be a Phillie for a long time. For us, this was a move for the present and the future."

Amaro has a knack for making bold moves at the trade deadline. In his three years since replacing Hall of Famer Pat Gillick as the GM, Amaro has acquired Cliff Lee, Oswalt and Pence — all on July 29.

He also traded for Roy Halladay in December 2009, and then shocked the baseball world by signing Lee to a free-agent deal last winter.

"We always try to address our needs," Amaro said. "We feel this was the missing piece."

Pence adds balance to a lefty-heavy lineup. Manuel now can move Shane Victorino up from fifth to No. 2 until Placido Polanco returns from the disabled list.

Pence led the Astros, who have the worst record in the majors, in homers. On the Phillies, he's fourth behind Howard (20), Raul Ibanez (14) and leadoff hitter Jimmy Rollins (12).

"I'm really looking forward to just trying to be a part," Pence said. "Give it my heart and soul like I always do. One thing I try to take pride in is hustle, grind and preparation. It's really cool to be wanted like that."

Amaro said the Phillies were able to stay under the luxury tax despite adding Pence's salary. He's earning $6.9 million this season. Amaro didn't rule out making more deals before Sunday's deadline.

"Right now, I'm very comfortable with our ballclub," he said.

The 28-year-old Pence was Philadelphia's target all along because of his age, skills and a favorable contract situation. He can't become a free agent until 2014.

The Phillies had some interest in Carlos Beltran, traded Thursday from the New York Mets to the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants. Beltran is a free agent at the end of this season with no compensation.

"I don't like rentals," Amaro said. "I don't believe in those."

Pence isn't going anywhere anytime soon — except the postseason.

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