It was only one year ago that Hunter Pence became a member of the Philadelphia Phillies. Could the star outfielder be on the move once again as July 31st approaches?
With the Phillies approaching a possible sell-mode for the first time in a long time, Pence is the latest big name to surface as a moveable piece. Interestingly, the Detroit Tigers have been attached to his name as a potential suitor.
Now it seems as though the Tigers have been mentioned in the same breath as every outfielder, starting pitcher, and second baseman on the trade market, but Pence’s name carries some weight.
Pence is a lifetime .290 hitter with legitimate pop in his bat – a true middle of the order presence. In 2012, his first full year in Philly, he’s hitting .275 with 17 bombs and 57 RBI’s.
Contractually speaking, Pence, 29, is still an affordable player under team control. He is making $10.4M this year and is arbitration eligible next year. This puts him outside the category of merely a 2-month rental. He won’t become a true free agent until 2014 when he will likely command a large multi-year deal on the open market.
The Tigers link is an interesting one. Detroit has also been paired up with names such as Carlos Quentin, Josh Willingham, and others. Adding a starting pitcher appears to be the Tigers’ clear priority (read here for more) as the deadline approaches, and the outfield is starting to get a little crowded in Motown.
The resurgent Delmon Young has eased the concern of Tiger faithful as his production has ramped up dramatically in recent weeks. Brennan Boesch is becoming somewhat reliable. Austin Jackson has been sensational and Quintin Berry has won over the hearts and minds of all Detroit fans with his inspired play. Throw in the fact that Andy Dirks is getting close to starting his rehab assignment and we have ourselves a collecting logjam.
Clearly Young will be the everyday DH for the rest of his 2012 tenure in Detroit, so that helps. But if a player with the skill set of a Hunter Pence lands in Detroit something has to give. Who then is the odd man out?
A player, in theory, should never lose his job to injury and especially not when he has hit well over .300 when he has played. But Andy Dirks might end up on the outside looking in. The Tigers have won 11 out of their last 13 with Berry and Boesch in the lineup virtually every day. It’s not fair to Dirks but he might not see much daylight with the big club the rest of the way if Detroit does indeed make an outfield move.
Aside from that, one of either Berry or Boesch would lose their daily lineup gig. Both are left-handed while Pence hits from the right side. It’s pretty clear at this point that Jim Leyland enjoys the 1-2 punch of Jackson and Berry at the top of his lineup.
With that in mind it just might be the inconsistent Boesch who takes a seat and becomes a bench player.
Is any of this really necessary? Not really. Depth is in place right now and the players already rostered are picking up their play.
Is a move like this likely? Definitely not. Grabbing Pence would be a major move by the Tigers. Since he is under team control beyond 2012 the Phillies can command a substantial package in return. Maybe this is why Jacob Turner is getting another start on Sunday.
Either way, the Tigers are likely to inquire on Pence. Assuming the asking price doesn’t include Nick Castellanos, then Dave Dombrowski will listen.
For now we can simply file this rumor under the “intriguing but unlikely” category. But as always with Dombrowski, stay tuned.