Three years ago today, the Houston Astros traded outfielder Hunter Pence to the Philadelphia Phillies for first baseman Jon Singleton, pitchers Jarred Cosart and Josh Zeid, and a player to be named later (who ended up being outfielder Domingo Santana.)
At the time, many people questioned Houston trading a two-time All-Star and cornerstone of the franchise for a group of players that wouldn’t help them win games right away. However, I have always believed it takes AT LEAST three years (preferably more) before anybody can start to fairly grade a trade, draft pick, or any other deal involving young players.
Now that three years have passed, and the Astros have had time to develop the players they received, I think it’s pretty clear they won the trade.
I love Hunter Pence and he did some nice things for the Phillies in 2011 when they finished with the best record in baseball. However, Philadelphia got knocked out in the first round of the playoffs by the St. Louis Cardinals that year. The following season, they decided to trade Pence to the Giants (for Nate Schierholtz, Tommy Joseph, and Seth Rosin) and the team has been pretty terrible ever since.
The Astros, meanwhile, have used the players they received from Philadelphia to build a terrific young core.
I’m more optimistic on Singleton than most people at this point. Yes, he is only hitting .186 right now, but he has shown flashes of power with 10 home runs and 35 RBIs. Plus, he is still only 22-years-old and adjusting to the majors. The Astros are going to be patient with the powerful first baseman because they’ve invested a lot into his success (about $10 million over the next five seasons.) Singleton certainly needs to cut down on the strikeouts and become a much more patient, smart hitter, but the potential is certainly there and I think worth the Astros time and money.
Jarred Cosart is no longer with the organization, but the value he brought back in a trade this past deadline seems like a nice haul. The package of outfielder Jake Marisnick (who has been on fire recently), third baseman Colin Moran, right-hander Frances Martes and a compensation pick in 2015 appears to be very valuable, but the jury is still out on that trade for now (like I said, it takes at least three years to even start evaluating.)
Josh Zeid and Domingo Santana have been pretty disappointing so far, but could still turn it around with the Astros. Zeid made 23 appearances this season out of the bullpen, posting a 6.97 ERA while giving up 18 runs (16 earned) over 20 2/3 innings. He is now out for the season after under-going surgery on both his feet, however, he is expected to recover from both surgeries and be ready for spring training next February.
Santana, meanwhile, made his debut on July 1st and didn’t collect a hit in six games with the Astros. According to baseballreference.com, he’s the 49th player since 1914 to begin a Major League career with a hitless streak of at least 17 at-bats, and he struckout 14 times in those 17 at-bats. However, he is hitting .292 in 104 games at Class AAA Oklahoma City this season and could still be a productive player down the road.
I understand why the Phillies made the trade at the time and I had my doubts about the Astros front office back then (that was one of Ed Wade’s last trades with the organization.) However, now that I look back on it, I think the Astros did a great job and made the right call trading away Pence.
What do you think? Three years later, are the Astros winners or losers?