Pence arbitration decision expected Saturday

Pence arbitration decision expected Saturday

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Astros general manager Ed Wade was pleased with the case the team laid out in the Hunter Pence arbitration hearing Friday morning in Phoenix. The sides debated for 3 hours, 45 minutes and expect to hear a decision from the three-person panel Saturday.

Pence, the club's Most Valuable Player a year ago, is asking for $6.9 million, but the team offered $5.15 million. Pence made $3.5 million last year and hit .282 with 25 homers and a career-high 91 RBIs along with 18 stolen bases.

"This is part of the process we go through when you can't reach a negotiated settlement, and now it's all about baseball," Wade said.

Wade, president of baseball operations Tal Smith and assistant general manager David Gottfried represented the Astros at the hearing with Pence and his representatives. Since losing a case with Rick Wilkins in 1996, the Astros have won their last four arbitration hearings -- Darryl Kile (1997), Jose Valverde (2008), Mark Loretta (2008) and Wandy Rodriguez (2010).

"I thought Tal did a very effective job," Wade said. "I thought they were effective with their presentation, and now it's a case of the arbitration panel deciding where Hunter fits in the salary structure."

Pence said Thursday he would return to Florida immediately after the hearing and would report to the Spring Training facility in Kissimmee on Saturday morning.