Hunter Pence takes a seat on Houston’s bench

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With trade rumors swirling, Hunter Pence is on the Astros bench on Wednesday night.  However, it’s not because he’s been dealt, says the Houston Chronicle’s Zachary Levine.

Pence, mired in a 7-for-40 skid since the All-Star break, was told Tuesday that he’d get tonight off.

Pence has just one extra-base hit and two RBI in 11 games since his All-Star appearance.  He had 17 doubles, eight homers and 43 RBI in 55 games during April and May, but he has just seven doubles, three homers and 19 RBI in 42 games since.

Still, Pence’s trade value remains sky-high.  The Astros reportedly backed out of a deal with the Phillies that might have included two top prospects in right-hander Jarred Cosart and first baseman Jonathan Singleton.  The Braves could also redouble their efforts to land the right fielder after losing Brian McCann to the disabled list.

Then there are the Red Sox, who insist on testing the waters whenever an All-Star talent becomes available.

The Astros still appear unlikely to deal Pence, preferring instead to discuss starting pitchers Brett Myers and Wandy Rodriguez.  Still, given the dearth of talent in the organization, they’d be foolish to rule anything out.

Giants sign Austin Jackson to two-year, $6 million contract

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The Giants announced on Monday night the signing of outfielder Austin Jackson. According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, it’s a two-year, $6 million deal with performance incentives that allow Jackson to earn up to an additional $2.5 million for a total of $8.5 million.

Jackson, who soon turns 31 years old, spent last season with the Indians. In 318 plate appearances, he hit .318/.387/.482 with seven home runs, 35 RBI, and 46 runs scored.

The Giants have been on the hunt for a center fielder and Jackson addresses that need relatively cheaply. Jackson will join Hunter Pence and newcomer Andrew McCutchen in the outfield.