It’s now more likely than not that the Astros will deal outfielder Hunter Pence by Sunday’s non-waiver trade deadline, one major-league source told FOXSports.com on Thursday afternoon.
Pence is one of the top available power bats, now that the Mets have dealt Carlos Beltran to the Giants. The Phillies have been Pence’s most serious suitor, the source indicated, with their National League East rival Braves also maintaining a high level of interest.
The Indians are involved, too, sources say. The Red Sox also have spoken with the Astros about Pence and are looking for a right-handed-hitting outfielder, but it’s not believed Boston is engaged in serious talks with Houston at the moment.
Pence won’t become a free agent until after the 2013 season, and so the price tag on him is high. Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reported that a Philadelphia offer believed to include top prospects Jonathan Singleton and Jarred Cosart – along with another player – wasn’t accepted by Houston general manager Ed Wade.
One source downplayed the possibility that Pence could be traded within the division to the Reds or Pirates, two teams known to be looking for an outfielder.
Meanwhile, neither the Rangers nor the Angels are seriously pursuing Pence at this time, sources say.
-- Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal