Source: Phillies acquire Pence

Hunter Pence has been traded to the Phillies. (Dave Einsel/AP)

Ruben Amaro Jr. struck at the deadline again. Charlie Manuel finally has the righthanded bat he has craved since spring training. And the best team in baseball just added the final piece to its World Series-or-bust hopes.

The Phillies, permanently in a win-now mode, acquired outfielder Hunter Pence from the Houston Astros for four minor leaguers late Friday night, a source told The Inquirer. Two of those players — Jonathan Singleton and Jarred Cosart — were rated as the top prospects in a farm system depleted annually by summer blockbusters.

But such is the life for a franchise that had already invested $175 million in its major-league roster. The expectation in this city is to win a championship, future be damned.

Pence is not a superstar, but he is the complementary righthanded bat the Phillies have missed once Jayson Werth bolted for his mega-millions deal in Washington. He will be inserted into right field and the middle of Manuel's lineup.

In Pence, the Phillies have long-term certainty. The 28-year-old has two years of arbitration remaining. That doesn't mean he will come cheap; Pence is already making $6.9 million in 2011 and will be due a significant raise in 2012 and 2013. But with his addition, the 2012 outfield of Pence, Shane Victorino and Domonic Brown is set.

It's unclear whether the Phillies will pay the remaining $2.2 million on Pence's deal this season. If they do, it could put them dangerously close or over baseball's luxury tax limit of $178 million. No National League team has surpassed that threshold since instituted in 2003.

In the end, while top farmhands were sacrificed, no young pieces at the major-league level were required to complete the deal. The two players to be named later will come from a list that does not include Brown or 23-year-old pitcher Vance Worley. first reported the trade.

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