Hunter Pence

Phillies acquire Hunter Pence from Astros

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10:00 p.m EDT update: CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury confirms the deal, with the Phillies giving up Singleton, Cosart, pitching prospect Josh Reid and a fourth player still to be determined for Pence.

9:00 p.m. EDT update: Rosenthal reports that the Astros will get first baseman Jonathan Singleton, right-hander Jarred Cosart and two players to be named in return for Pence.  Rosenthal says the PTNBs will not be major prospects, which would seem to rule out May.

8:50 p.m. EDT update: Rosenthal is now reporting that the Phillies are close to a deal for Pence and that it’s expected to be completed tonight.  No word yet on the properties involved, but the Astros were believed to be asking for 1B Jonathan Singleton, RHP Jarred Cosart and RHP Trevor May.

7:42 p.m. EDT update: FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal just tweeted that the Phillies and Astros are “progressing toward” a Pence deal. More as it comes in.

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Because we here at HardballTalk are all Phillies, all of the time.

SI.com’s Jon Heyman just tweeted that Hunter Pence is “very likely to be moved now” and that it appears the Phillies are favored, with the Indians, Red Sox and Reds also in the mix.

Meanwhile, FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi reports that the Phillies “remain active in talks” for San Diego’s available relievers, but that they prefer Mike Adams to Heath Bell.

Bell had already created one of the crazier rumors of the day, in which the Padres were supposedly asking for left-hander Derek Holland and top shortstop prospect Jurickson Profar in return for Bell.  We didn’t put much stock in that one, though.  The Rangers woudn’t give up Profar alone for Bell, and it’d be a surprise if they parted with Holland in such a trade.

Bell is also believed to be a target of the Cardinals.

We’ve gone over the Pence stuff time and time again, but it’s worth noting that ESPN’s Buster Olney recently reported that the Phillies have no intention of parting with Domonic Brown in a Pence trade, whether it’s a two- or a three-team deal.

The Astros, who reportedly aren’t as high on Brown as some, are believed to have asked for the Phillies’ best position prospect (Jonathan Singleton) and their two best pitching prospects (Jarred Cosart and Trevor May) in a Pence deal.

Update: ESPN’s Jayson Stark has multiple sources telling him that there’s no more talk of a three-team deal that would bring Pence to Philadelphia.  If it happens, it’ll just be the two teams.

Edwin Encarnacion: “I think [the Blue Jays] got too hasty in making their decision.”

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 19:  Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays reacts in the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians during game five of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on October 19, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion signed a three-year, $60 million contract with the Indians early last month. The 34-year-old had spent the last seven and a half seasons with the Blue Jays, but his future elsewhere appeared to be written on the wall when the Jays signed Kendrys Morales in November to essentially occupy Encarnacion’s role.

Encarnacion spoke about testing free agency for the first time in his career and the situation that led to him leaving Toronto for Cleveland. Via Jorge L. Ortiz of USA TODAY:

“Toronto was always my first option, but I had never been a free agent, and anybody who gets to free agency wants to find out what’s out there,’’ he said. “I think they got too hasty in making their decision, but now I’m with Cleveland and I’m happy to be here.’’

Encarnacion last season hit .263/.357/.529 with 42 home runs and an AL-best 127 RBI. He’s now on the team that defeated his Blue Jays in the ALCS to advance to the World Series. Encarnacion effectively replaces Mike Napoli, who returned to the Rangers.

Sammy Sosa compares himself to Jesus Christ

Sammy Sosa
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I’m on record saying that Sammy Sosa has been rather hosed by baseball history.

The guy did amazing things. Unheard-of things. He was truly astounding at this peak and was incredibly important to both his franchise and Major League Baseball as a whole. His repayment: he’s a pariah. His club won’t claim him and his greatness, by any measure, has not just been overlooked but denied by most who even bother to consider him.

Yes, he had PED associations, but they were extraordinarily vague ones. He’s in the same boat as David Ortiz as far as documented PED evidence against him, but Ortiz will be a first ballot Hall of Famer while Sosa barely clings to the ballot. He hit homers at the same cartoonish rate as Mark McGwire, but while Big Mac has been embraced by baseball and has coached for years, Sosa can’t get into Wrigley Field unless he buys a ticket and even then the Cubs might try to hustle him out of sight. The man has been treated poorly by any measure.

Yet, it’s still possible to overstate the case. Like Sosa did in this interview with Chuck Wasserstrom:

It’s like Jesus Christ when he came to Jerusalem,” Sosa told chuckbloggerstrom.com. “Everybody thought Jesus Christ was a witch (laughing) — and he was our savior. So if they talk (bleep) about Jesus Christ, what about me? Are you kidding me?”

At least he was basically joking about it. Still, it’s a totally unfair and almost offensive comparison.

I mean, anyone who watched Sosa’s career knows that he had trouble laying off breaking stuff low and away. In contrast . . .