Could the Astros really trade Hunter Pence?
Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal said recently during his Full Count segment that the Phillies have been inquiring about right fielder Hunter Pence. With the Astros most likely being sellers at the trade deadline it raises the question of, could the Astros really trade Hunter Pence?
That question could be answered with a question of, is Hunter Pence a franchise guy? If Ed Wade and new owner Jim Crane believe he is then you can’t trade Pence. But if they don’t believe he is then they should at the very least be willing to listen to offers. Pence would be very attractive player to a number of teams who are looking for outfield help. He is a consistent 25 HR, .280 hitter who plays hard every play. He is still young at 28 years of age and is just starting to enter the prime of his career. The Astros could ask for a king’s ransom and I am sure a team would be willing to pay it.
The next step is figuring out how valuable Hunter Pence truly is and Baseball Reference provides us with some great tools to determine his value. They computer Similarity Scores for past and present baseball players based on their statistics. There is some notable names on Pence’s list that includes the LA Dodgers’ Matt Kemp, the Brewers’ Corey Hart and the Twins’ Jason Kubel. The problem with this is that it just looks at their career stats and most of these players have been in the league longer than Pence. This means Pence has done more in a shorter period of time.
Because of this issue they break the stats down further and look at players who have had similar careers to Pence to his current point in his career. This list has some recognizable names as well including Aubrey Huff, Jim Edmonds, Larry Walker, and former Houston Astro Richard Hidalgo. There are some pretty good players who Hunter Pence could be compared to but there is no franchise players that compare to Pence.
Even though Pence may not be considered a franchise player, in my opinion the Astros can not trade Pence at this point in his career. Last year they shipped out Oswalt and Berkman and if they were to move Pence this season, the team would alienate a number of their fans and lose the little star power they have left. Pence is a fan favorite and one of the longest tenured players in the organization. He has worked his way up through the minor league system starting out at the Tri-City Valleycats in upstate NY. He is not an aging veteran and could be with the Astros for years to come. They have built a good young nucleus of players including Pence, Michael Bourn, Chris Johnson, and Brett Wallace. So even though it may be attractive to move him, the organization at this point can not move Pence.