Buster Olney of ESPN is reporting that the Astros are willing to trade outfielder Hunter Pence.
Count the Red Sox as a team sure to inquire.
A two-time All-Star, Pence is under team control though 2013 and would provide a long-term replacement in right field for J.D. Drew at a relatively known cost. Pence, 28, is a player in his prime as well, meaning the Sox would pay for future production, not for what he did in the past as would be the case for somebody like Carlos Beltran.
The price would surely be high for Pence, perhaps prohibitively so for the Sox after giving up three blue-chippers for Adrian Gonzalez. But the Sox do have a fairly decent inventory of prospects.
Start with Ryan Lavarnway, Will Middlebrooks or Ryan Kalish. Toss in any pitcher not named Anthony Ranaudo (meaning Kyle Weiland, Felix Doubront, Alex Wilson or Stephen Fife) and then whatever else it takes. Josh Reddick, Che-Hsuan Lin, Bryce Brentz, etc.
No Ranaudo, no Jose Iglesias. Other than that, it's a good move.
The Astros could well be playing the same game the Rockies are playing with Ubaldo Jimenez by putting a star on the market to see if somebody will overpay for him. It would be worth finding out.