Trade rumors have been swirling for weeks now, and it is finally time to see which GMs across the league will make those rumors come to fruition. Some of the bigger fish on the market like Carlos Beltran have already been moved, so does this mean that Ruben Amaro is going all in for Hunter Pence?
Could Ruben Amaro really acquire the top player at the trade deadline for the third year in a row? The young GM has already acquired superstars Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt in consecutive seasons, so who is next?
The Philadelphia Phillies have arguably their best roster in the entire 121-year history of the franchise, and they are certainly taking the "all-in" approach that this ballclub warrants.
The Phillies are about $3 million shy of the luxury tax threshold of $178 million, but team president David Montgomery is willing to pass that threshold for the right opportunity, he told Matt Gelb and Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Jayson Stark of ESPN.com made it clear yesterday that the Phillies were indeed targeting the two-time All-Star Hunter Pence. Stark quoted sources who claim that Philadelphia “had a deal for him earlier in the week, only to have Houston back off.”
The deal that Stark's suggested included the Phillies' top two minor league prospects and the deal was still turned down by GM Ed Wade of the Houston Astros. The package included first baseman Jonathan Singleton and their best pitching prospect, Jarred Cosart.
Singleton was considered to be an "untouchable" prospect before this season began and Cosart has a fastball that reaches the high-90s even late into games; that translates to ace potential. Stark suggests that the Astros would want another two mid-level prospects along with Singleton and Cosart as well.
What would it take to land Hunter Pence if Ed Wade is so gun-shy at this point that he would balk at the opportunity to acquire two potential cornerstones? Reports have stated all along that Wade will want a king's ransom in return for Houston's best player, but this is starting to sound ridiculous.
Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reported that any deal for Hunter Pence would have to start with Domonic Brown—the same Domonic Brown that has been the Phillies' top prospect for the past three seasons. In fact, Baseball America ranked Brown the No. 48 prospect in MLB pre-2009, No. 15 prospect pre-2010 and No. 4 prospect pre-2011.
Brown hasn't exactly blossomed this season at the plate or in the field (nice catch against the Giants last night Dom) but would Ruben Amaro be making too rash of a decision on a guy that has all of the raw tools to be an All-Star corner outfielder for the next decade?
Brown is ranked as the Phils' "best hitter for average" and "best outfield arm" by Baseball America. Brown has the potential to be a 30-HR-and-30-steal guy, and those player's don't come around very often.
The Phillies will seemingly have to include Brown in any deal for Pence, along with either Singleton or Cosart. The Astros have all of the leverage at this point as there is no need to trade Pence before the season is over. The Phillies lost out on the Carlos Beltran race to the one team that worries Philadelphia the most, the San Francisco Giants.
Could we have been witnessing what is to come again in October? The Phillies and Giants have two of their best pitchers on the mound and the Giants are able to squeak out two runs while the Phightins can only score one?
The Giants and the Atlanta Braves have dominant bullpens as well as starters and their left-handed pitchers have shown the ability to consistently get outs against the Phillies' top hitters. Amaro clearly has seen this all season long and may feel that a move for Pence is necessary if the Phillies want to return to their third World Series in four seasons.
Is Hunter Pence worth Domonic Brown, your choice of Singleton or Cosart, and two mid-level prospects like Jiwan James and Harold Garcia? The Phillies are willing to be the first National League team to ever pay the luxury tax as they realize that this season is World Series or bust.
Clearly the Philies feel like the addition of Hunter Pence will be what the team needs to have another raucous parade down Broad Street.