Report: Phillies “had a deal” for Hunter Pence, but Astros “backed off”

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At this point the Phillies’ strong interest in Astros outfielder Hunter Pence is no secret, but Jayson Stark of ESPN.com takes it a step further by quoting sources who claim Philadelphia “had a deal for him earlier in the week, only to have Houston back off.”

Stark couldn’t get confirmation of that from any Astros sources, but says “it’s believed the Phillies structured a deal around” their two best prospects, Single-A first baseman Jonathan Singleton and Single-A right-hander Jarred Cosart.

If that’s true and the Astros turned the offer down, their decision to keep the 28-year-old Pence and his good but not great .818 career OPS looks awfully questionable for a team that needs all the young, cheap, long-term building blocks it can get. That seems pretty close to “offer they can’t refuse” territory.

Report: Angels to sign Cody Allen

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Angels and reliever Cody Allen are in agreement on a one-year contract, pending a physical. The value of the contract is not yet known.

Allen, 30, was looking for an opportunity to close and the Angels can certainly provide that. He will likely be the favorite to break camp as the closer. 2018 was the roughest year of his career, however, as he finished with a 4.70 ERA, 27 saves, and a 80/33 K/BB ratio in 67 innings. Among Allen’s six full seasons, his 27.7 strikeout rate and 11.4 percent walk rate represented career-worsts. FanGraphs also shows him losing nearly a full MPH on his average fastball velocity.

The Angels lost closer Keynan Middleton to Tommy John surgery early last season and he likely won’t return until the second half of the 2019 season. Blake Parker, who handled save situations in Middleton’s place, was non-tendered by the Angels in November and ended up signing with the Twins. The closer’s role is Allen’s to lose, it seems.