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MLB Trade Rumors: Atlanta Braves Still Considering Hunter Pence

The Hunter Pence trade rumors seemed to have died out over the last weekend, but it appears they still have some life to them. National writers had hinted at various times that Houston was still looking to deal their star outfielder if the right deal came along, but it was this tweet from David O'Brien of the AJC that broke the news:

#Braves have not ruled out making offer for Hunter Pence, contrary to some reports.

There are both strong cases both for and against acquiring Pence. Let's take a look at them...

Why Pence Makes Sense:

  • He's a right-handed, power hitting outfielder who is capable of playing all three outfield positions. The Atlanta Braves have stated multiple times they seek a player who fits this criteria and very few (if any) fit it as well as Pence.
  • He's under team control until after the 2013 season and is relatively cheap. Pence will be in his third year of arbitration in 2012 and his fourth and final year in 2013. He won't come at a bargain those two years, but he also isn't locked down with a long-term contract that will hamper the franchise for years.
  • He's a really good hitter. While his BABIP (batting average on balls in-play) of .369 indicates he has been pretty lucky in 2011 and is due for regression, Pence is still as consistent as they come at the plate.
  • Solid defense. He's been above-average in right field to this point in his career, and he's athletic enough to handle center field on occasion.
Why Pence Doesn't Make Sense:
  • It's going to cost a ton to bring him to Atlanta. To be honest, this is pretty much the only downside to putting a Braves jersey on the talented outfielder. The price will be steep, though. Very steep. Pence is a fan favorite in Houston, is their best player, and is coming into the prime of his career. He would cost at least one of our top-pitching prospects (Vizcaino, Delgado, Minor) and then multiple others. Frank Wren has been hesitant to deal any of our young prospects in previous years, though we do have the depth to make a big move.
  • His trade value is at an all-time high. Pence is (by far) having the best season of his career and the Astros would be dealing him at peak value. A team would have to "blow the Astros away" to acquire him, according to reports. Does it make sense to overpay for a player of Pence's caliber?
  • He doesn't walk much. Make no mistake about it: Pence is up at the plate to swing the bat. He's no where near Jeff Francoeur's level, but don't expect a plate disciplinarian should the outfielder come to Atlanta.
Acquiring Houston's talented outfielder will not be easy. He does make sense, though, especially compared to some of the other available players on the trade market. 

I originally wasn't crazy about the idea of the Braves acquiring Hunter Pence, but I'm slowly warming up to it assuming the price is reasonable. He could play right field when Jason Heyward either needs a day off or is facing a tough left-handed pitcher. He could play left field whenever Martin Prado shifted to third base or needed a day off. And he could handle the center field duties on occasion, though it might take some time for him to get adjusted.

Stay tuned, folks. SB Nation Atlanta will keep you up in the know on any and all breaking news surrounding the Braves and their quest to add a right-handed hitter to their lineup. We're just four days away from the trade deadline.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.