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MLB Trade Rumors: Should the Astros Deal Hunter Pence?

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It was just reported by ESPN's Buster Olney that the Astros are now willing to deal outfielder Hunter Pence. Here is Olney's tweet:

Buster Olney

This news comes hours after the Braves beat reporter David O'Brien, from the Atlanta Journal Constitution, had reported that the Braves were closing in on a deal for a right handed hitting bat. This news also tells me Astros GM Ed Wade must have received a solid offer for Pence and he is putting it out that Pence is now available to see if another team can top the offer he received.

Should the Astros trade their best player? Find out my thoughts after the jump:

I was having this discussion with a friend of mine today. He opined that the reason why the Astros are a terrible team is decisions like this-trading their best player. I disagreed. My opinion was that the Astros are going to lose 95 games with Pence playing everyday, why not see what his market value is right now. The Astros farm system is one of the worst in baseball, so trading Pence allows them to start rebuilding their farm system.

The Braves, along with a few other teams, would have to be at the top of the Astros list of trade partners due to the number of solid prospects in their farm system. I imagine teams like the Phillies, Reds, Giants, Red Sox, and Yankees are a few teams that would/should make an offer for Pence.

Why is Pence so marketable right now? One, the Astros are rebuilding. Two, he is an All Star outfielder who is hitting .315-.356-.478 with 11 HRs, 61 RBIs, 45 runs scored and 7 SBs. He has averaged 25 HRs and 82 RBIs over the last 3 seasons coming into 2011. Three, he comes very cheap as his 2011 contract called for him to be paid $6.9 million this year, and he is arbitration eligible next season, so the acquiring team still has rights to him for the next two seasons.

What can the Astros get back from the Braves? This is pure speculation, but I would say a package headed by Arodys Vizcaino, Keith Law's #11 prospect in all of baseball could get things started. The Braves could add in AAA starter Mike Minor and SS prospect Matt Lipka and have the right handed hitter they have been seeking all season.

Does this proposed offer get a deal done for Hunter Pence?