Hunter Pence: What Should Houston Astros Do with Right Fielder?
Now that the ownership issue has been taken care of and Jim Crane will be taking control of the Houston Astros, it is time to start evaluating the roster and what should be done moving forward.
One of the first players they will be addressing is right fielder Hunter Pence, who is having a career year. The problem is the Astros have the worst record in MLB and don't look like they will be competing for a playoff spot in the near future.
Pence currently has a one-year deal worth $6.9 million. Here are the options that Crane and the Astros organization have with Hunter Pence.
Trade Him at the Deadline
ESPN.com's Jayson Stark has said that he has heard rumblings of the Phillies, Braves and Orioles having interest in Hunter Pence. The Astros would consider trading Pence because he would bring back the best package of prospects out of all the players on the Astros.
Pence's value also is at an all-time high, and that is why he could command such a high price. He has had 23-game and 15-game hit streaks already this year. He is hitting over .300 and been the only dangerous bat in the Astros lineup.
Trade Him During the Offseason
They may wait to trade Pence until after the season rather than now for two reasons. One is that technically Jim Crane is not officially the owner until approved by the other owners in MLB, which could come as early as sometime in July.
If this transition takes place in July, there wouldn't be much time for Crane to evaluate Pence and the rest of the Astros organization and make a sound decision. By waiting until after the season, he can have a better handle on the situation.
The other reason he may wait is the Astros have been a second-half team for the better part of a decade now. They have started off slow and played above .500 ball the second half of the year. The Astros may wait to see how this team responds to the slow start it is off to.
Offer Arbitration Again After This Season
The Astros could offer arbitration again to Hunter Pence after this year. The problem is Pence already has won once against the Astros and is playing even better this year than he did last year.
By going to arbitration with Pence, the Astros could have to pay him a large salary, and I don't think they will be willing to take that risk. I think this is the most unlikely scenario when the Astros address what to do with Hunter Pence.
Sign Him to a Long-Term Deal This Season
If I were Jim Crane, this is the route I would with Hunter Pence. He has already won an arbitration case against the Astros last year, and it could be financially beneficial to lock Pence up long-term now.
With all the turnover the Astros have had in the past few years, they need to commit to a player and make him the face of their organization. That player is Pence.
He has been a consistent 25 home run hitter each of the past three seasons. He plays hard and is a fan favorite because of the effort he gives. He has become a leader and at times this season has carried this Astros team. If anybody deserves a long-term deal on this Astros team, it is Hunter Pence.