The Phillies and Giants may or may not have agreed in principle to a deal to send Hunter Pence across the country last night. The news came from CSN BayArea’s beat reporter, and recent Jeopardy! standout, Andrew Baggardly (@CSNBaggs) who cited KPIX CBS San Francisco’s Sports Director Dennis O’Donnell (@KPIXSports). O’Donnell reported that the deal was pending Giants ownership approval and likely included catching prospect Tommy Joseph.
Baggardly confirmed that O’Donnell’s Twitter account was, in fact, O’Donnell and that O’Donnell has a history of getting scoops on hot Giant news items, including first breaking Aubrey Huff‘s extension and Bruce Boche’s hiring as head coach. KPIX even went as far as to start their early morning sportscast today with this screen shot:
Understandably, many folks are still skeptical of this news as it is not being reported by any of the major national reporters and baseball insiders. If the news is true, and the deal does hinge around catching prospect Joseph, it would be a disappointing trade. It is abundantly clear that the Phillies will not recoup full value for Pence compared to the haul they gave up last year but the Phillies already have a player similar to, further along in development than, and better than Joseph in Reading (Sebastian Valle).
Further more, aside from a few top chips, San Francisco’s system was ranked only 23rd by FanGraphs headed into the 2012 season, three spots behind the Phils, and lacks depth other than catchers and outfielders, so it becomes unlikely any of the Phils’ infield depth needs would be addressed. Yet, if Pence is going to San Francisco, here are some names that I would piece a Pence trade around.
It is understood that the Phillies will not receive comparable value from their first trade because A.) Pence only has one more year left of arbitration, B.) it is a becoming an expensive year (estimated at $14.3 million by MLB Trade Rumors), and C.) they massively overpaid for him to begin with. The Phillies gave up two Top-50 level prospects for Pence, one of which who is now a top-25 and climbing prospect, but should not settle for anything less than two Top-100 level prospects. Dealing with the Giants makes this very, very tough, but it can be done.
First, I would ask for…
You thought I would say Gary Brown, didn’t you? While Brown is the top prospect left in the Giants cabinet and plays center field, his age and development scares me away. Instead, Panik is a high-ceiling shortstop from St. John’s University who hits well for average and has increasing power. At age 21, Panik is playing High-A ball and hitting .275/.353/.379 and is striking out in less than 10% of his at-bats.
Then, my next request would be…
Yes, Tommy Joseph is a catcher and I said I did not want him. Yes, Hector Sanchez, 22, is a catcher and I do want him. Sanchez went from Single-A to MLB last year in one swoop. The portly backstop is blocked by Buster Posey at the Major League-level but has produced admirably in 133 PA (.281/.286/.383, 2 HR). His ceiling is likely somewhere between the Bengie and Jose Molina but he’s a cheap and decent back-up option for Chooch and a fill-in-the-gap option if Chooch cannot be retained after 2013 and Valle is not ready.
Osich, 22, is a 6’3″ lefty out of Oregon State who has big-time potential. Osich was likely good enough to go in the second or supplemental first round of the 2011 draft but recent Tommy John surgery scared teams away. Osich is averaging over a K/9 IP in his first pro season at High-A. This is the kind of lottery ticket you want as a throw-in.
And then, to close it out…
Peguero, 24, is hitting .260/.286/.393 in his first season at Triple-A Fresno and has never struggled to hit for average. Peguero shows little power but has ceiling in his peak years similar to a better Ben Francisco. It’s unlikely that Peguero will develop power but could be an obtainable asset as he is effectively blocked by Brown despite being a level above him.
And there you have it: four players for Hunter Pence: a future shortstop, a Major-League ready catcher, a lottery ticket lefty reliever, and a Major-League ready outfielder. This may be the best the Phillies can get back for Pence.