Unless the Philadelphia Phillies have several money trees at their disposal, the team is going to have to do some financial restructuring at some point following the six-year, $144 million extension Cole Hamels just signed with the team.
Next year, the team will owe nearly $104 million alone to Hamels, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay. Somewhere on the roster, it will need to trim some dollars.
The Phillies continue to signal to clubs that they are eager to move right fielder Hunter Pence, who could earn $13 million to $14 million next season in his final year of arbitration.
Pence, 29, is batting .268 with a .789 OPS, 17 homers and 57 RBI. His value could be enhanced by the signings of the San Diego Padres’ Carlos Quentin and Toronto Blue Jays’ Edwin Encarnacion and their respective removals from the trade market. But few teams are willing to assume high salaries and part with significant prospects.
Financially, moving Pence makes sense. But that's the only reason trading him away should even be considered.
For one, there is no way the team will get anywhere close to the price it paid to get him just a year ago, when it traded four prospects—including first baseman Jonathan Singleton and pitcher Jarred Cosart, two of the team's top prospects at the time—to the Houston Astros for Pence.
The Phillies might get half of the value back that it cost them to acquire Pence in the first place. That won't sit well with savvy fans.
But the Phillies aren't exactly baseball's most daunting offensive team, either, nor its youngest. While many of the team's offensive woes can be traced to time missed by Howard and Utley, this team is no longer led by the explosive offense that led it to a 2008 world championship and 2009 World Series appearance.
Pence leads the team in home runs, RBI and hits, and, at age 29, is one of the few regulars younger than 30. His absence would have short- and long-term implications.
Sure, the Phillies—currently 14 games out of first in the NL East and 9.5 games back for the last Wild Card spot—probably won't make the postseason this year. But with a clean bill of health, the squad should once again be considered a favorite in the National League next year.
With Pence, that is. Without him, I don't like the look of this lineup.
I understand there are financial situations to consider. But the window for the Phillies to win another World Series ring has become very slim and trading away Pence might be just enough to shut it.
So spend the money, Philadelphia. Another ring will make you forget about that bank statement.
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