Reports late Sunday night/early Monday morning had Pence going to the Giants. KPIX-TV in San Francisco had the transaction as a done deal, pending ownership approval. The station even went on air with graphics—and a Photoshopped image of Pence in a Giants cap—to say the trade was official.
(Here's a screen cap from Jeff Skversky of WPVI-TV in Philadelphia.)
KPIX sports director Dennis O'Donnell also tweeted other details of the trade, naming Double-A catcher Tommy Joseph as part of the package going to Philadelphia in exchange for Pence. But it appears that either the report was hasty or erroneous. No deal was announced throughout the day on Monday, nor has anything been reported as of this writing Monday evening.
CSN Bay Area's Andrew Baggarly traded text messages with Giants vice president Bobby Evans, who said there was "no truth to the rumor" of the trade. Of course, that doesn't mean discussions weren't happening.
So what happened here?
Was a deal actually in place, as KPIX reported? Or were terms of the deal being discussed—with Joseph's name involved as well as ownership approval likely being required for Pence's salary—but prematurely reported as official because of the constant pressure to be first with breaking news?
What doesn't seem to be inaccurate is that the Phillies are indeed calling around, offering Pence to several teams. CSN Philly's Jim Salisbury tweeted that the team was looking for a "big return" for Pence, who's under team control through 2013.
Salisbury later tweeted an example of what sort of return the Phillies were looking for, reporting that Philadelphia asked for Double-A outfielder Gary Brown and Single-A shortstop Joe Panik, two of the Giants' top five prospects, as ranked by Baseball America. That seems unlikely to happen, but it gives an idea of what the Phillies want for Pence.
However, Pence would be a great fit for the Giants lineup.
San Francisco is set in left field with Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan manning center field. But as was the case last year when the Giants traded for Carlos Beltran, the team could use an upgrade in right, where Gregor Blanco and Nate Schierholtz are currently splitting time.
Pence's right-handed bat could slot in anywhere through the middle of the Giants batting order. He could bat cleanup between Cabrera and Buster Posey, or bat behind Posey in the No. 5 spot. If manager Bruce Bochy wanted a left-right-left-right combination, Pence could even bat behind Pablo Sandoval if and when he returns from a hamstring injury.
As mentioned, Pence would be signed through 2013. Any team that picks him would pay the remainder of his $10.4 million salary for this season, along with whatever he earns through the arbitration process next season. Baseball Prospectus' John Perrotto tweeted that some teams are scared off by that potentially big arbitration payday, which could run up to $14 million.
This season, Pence is batting .271/.336/.447 with 17 home runs and 59 RBI. Those numbers would make him the Giants' leading home run hitter and second-leading RBI man. His .784 OPS currently would rank fourth among San Francisco hitters.
UPDATE—8:45 p.m. ET
I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I fell for a fake Twitter account when posting earlier that a trade had officially gone through. I thought my radar was pretty well tuned to that stuff, and I should've realized the rumor posted by "@KenRosenthal" was too good to be true.
I got caught up in the excitement of the trade deadline instead of following my instincts on a couple of things that seemed fishy (for example, no one else confirmed the report), and went with it.
My apologies if I misled anyone. I'll go stand in the corner with Dennis O'Donnell.
Follow @iancass on Twitter.