The Phillies have traded Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Singleton, Josh Zeid (Double-A reliever) and a player to be named later to Houston for Pence. The player to be named later is not believed to be a top-tier prospect, and the Astros are also including $1MM in the deal.
In Pence, the Phillies get the righthanded fifth batter they wanted so badly. He is under team control for all of next season and the season after. Those are his final arbitration years, and based on his $6.9MM salary this season, an estimate of $23MM over the next two seems fair. Though, Ruben Amaro could do as he usually does and reach a contract extension instead.
Click the link for reaction and analysis.Cosart was the Phillies top pitching prospect. Singleton was their best hitting prospect. This is a hefty price. But neither was going to be a part of the 2011 Phillies, or the 2012 Phillies, or the 2013 Phillies, or probably the 2014 Phillies.
Each is a Single-A prospect with a very big buzz. Cosart’s buzz has been generated more by the Phillies’ PR machine and his performance in the Futures Game in Arizona than by his recent outings for Clearwater. On the year, he has a 4.18 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.7 strikeout-per-nine rate. The fastball may be electric, but as of now the numbers are not. There is a good chance that Cosart’s value may never be higher than it was these past few weeks, and in that case, kudos to Ruben Amaro for selling high as he did with the eerily similar Jason Knapp.
Singleton is a bit harder to lose, but keep in mind that he is a man without a position … at least in this organization. He failed in left field the same way a blocked Ryan Howard did when Jim Thome played first base once upon a time. Singleton is a patient hitter with power that is a few years younger than his competition. I won’t lie to you and say he won’t be an impact player some day for Houston, because I strongly believe he will.
But you have to give something to get something. We’ve been spoiled by Ruben Amaro’s fleecings in recent years. But in this case, Houston was under no immediate obligation to deal Pence. They could have shopped him this winter or next trade deadline and still gotten a decent return. The Phillies had no leverage here.
But Amaro did what he thought he needed to do and what his manager wanted him to do – went out and acquired one of the top available bats. Pence undoubtedly makes the Phillies a better team, the question is only “by how much?” The answer depends entirely on the Phillies’ outfield arrangement. If Brown rides the pine every day, Pence’s addition adds marginal value, maybe a win or so. But if Brown shifts to left and Ibanez sits, Pence increases the Phillies offensively, defensively and on the basepaths. He is sneakily fast, I’ve always likened his speed to Chase Utley‘s. He runs incredibly hard and beats out balls he shouldn’t.
To most, this looks like a bad trade, like an overpay. But keep in mind that the process employed by each team is different. For a team with a World Series window of three or four years, Pence is probably more valuable than Cosart and Singleton. Even if you don’t believe that, you will once you see him in red pinstripes.