At the 2011 trade deadline, the Houston Astros shipped veteran outfielder Hunter Pence to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for first baseman Jonathan Singleton, who made a positive impact in his debut this week at Minute Maid Park, right-handed pitcher Jarred Cosart, who's a current fixture in Houston's rebuilding rotation, along with pitching prospect Josh Zeid, and a player to be named later that turned out to be outfielder Domingo Santana.
That's a pretty big haul for what turned out to be a one year rental for the Phillies. As we learned over the weekend, it may not have been the exact deal Philadelphia intended to make in the first place. According to Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle, Santana, who's currently batting .297/.374/.493 at Triple-A and may soon get an opportunity in the big leagues, was not supposed to be included on the list of players Houston had to choose from.
Less than two months after they picked George Springer from the University of Connecticut, the Astros sent Pence and cash to the Phillies on July 29, 2011, for Cosart, Singleton, Zeid and a player to be named, which ended up being Santana. In spring training, a Phillies official admitted that Santana wasn’t actually supposed to be on the list that was given to the Astros to pick from to satisfy the final piece on Aug. 15, 2011.
“There was no mistake,” Amaro said. “If someone said that, they are misinformed because it’s absolutely, unequivocally wrong. It’s false.”
Well, that may or may not make Phillies fans feel better. On one hand, such a mistake would be quite embarrassing and even more ammunition against Amaro and his front office staff. Whether it be by oversight or miscommunication at some level, everyone would be at fault for not spotting or correcting the error before the final list was submitted.
On the other hand, it's still potentially damaging regardless of how or why Santana was dealt. At 21, he's progressed very well despite being one of the youngest players at each minor-league level he's played at. In fact, he entered the season ranked as Houston's No. 8 prospect by Baseball America, which indicates he could turn into a helpful piece in their slow and steady rebuild.
In other words, he's the type of player Philadelphia would probably like to have back in their organization regardless of the circumstances surrounding his trade. And it doesn't help matters that despite Pence's strong play after being traded to Philadelphia — he hit .324 in 54 games — the Phillies were unable to advance beyond the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS and then faltered completely in 2012, precipitating another Pence trade to the San Francisco Giants.
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