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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hunter Pence Wins $6.9M In Arbitration

Hunter Pence just about doubled his 2010 salary after winning his arbitration case against the Astros. Pence is basically the NL version of Nick Markakis with more power and less OBP. But Markakis got the "face of the franchise" contract from the Orioles while the Astros seem content taking Pence to arbitration. Even if Pence's patience at the plate is a little disconcerting, he is the one constant that the Astros can count on during their current state of futility.

Pence, who will turn 28 this season, didn't seemed fazed by going to the hearing.

Rightfully so, I guess, since he won even though Paul Swydan from Fangraphs doubted his chances. Bill James has Pence pegged for 26 home runs and a .285/.339/.484 line which would put him around a 3.5 WAR player for 2011. That production is worth more than the $6.9 million Houston will be paying him.

The question is what will the Astros do with Pence. They can take him to arbitration again in 2012 and 2013 when they still won't be very competitive. Would signing him to a five year deal and hoping other pieces fall into place be the best bet? Or would it be better to keep going to arbitration and maybe trading him off at some point be the better route?

At this point, I'm guessing the Astros choose whichever option doesn't pan out in their best interest.

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