As you well know, Hunter Pence is eligible for arbitration for the first time, coming in with enough service time in his rookie year that he gets an extra year of arbitration. (Michael Bourn is arbitration-eligible for the first time, as well, but we'll take a look at him later. So let's take a look at arbitration-eligible players from last off-season, who were either Super Twos or had accumulated less than 3 years and 100 days of service time. (* = Super Two)
Jeff Francoeur, Atlanta: $3.375m
Nick Markakis, Baltimore: Signed 6-year/$66.1m prior to arbitration hearing
Luke Scott, Baltimore: $2.4m*
Jeremy Hermida, Florida: $2.25m
Cody Ross, Florida: $2.25m
Andre Ethier, Los Angeles: $3.1m*
Corey Hart, Milwaukee: $3.25m
Angel Pagan, New York Mets: $525,000*
Jeremy Reed, New York Mets: $925,000
Melky Cabrera, New York Yankess: $1.4m*
Jack Cust, Oakland: $2.8m
Shane Victorino, Philadelphia: $3.125m
Nate McLouth, Pittsburgh: Signed 3-year/$15.75m PTH
Chris Duncan, St. Louis: $825,000*
Okay, so this is a list of 14 first-time arbitration-eligible players from the 2008 offseason. Five of them were Super Two players. Of those Super Two players who signed one-year contracts, the average salary was $1.65 million. This is brought down by the contracts of Angel Pagan and Chris Duncan, but it is what it is. Where would Hunter Pence fit in here?
Interestingly enough Baseball-Reference says that Pence and LA's Andre Ethier are quite similar. Is that true? Pence will be 26 on Opening Day 2010 (April 13 birthday) and has a career line of .289/.340/.488, and was an All-Star in 2009.
Andre Ethier was 26 on Opening Day 2009 (April 10 birthday) and had a career line of .299/.410/.482 through his first three seasons. For all intents and purposes, Pence is better defensively (looking at RF/G, and of course, has that All-Star nod.
Of course there's a possibility that the Astros will offer Pence a multi-year deal (a la McLouth), but it would probably need to exceed what Pence would make in three years of arbitration. So if we're going the one-year route, and Andre Ethier signed a 1-year, $3.1m deal (the highest of one-year contracts for Super Two players) last off-season as a Super Two, I would imagine that's the low end figure that Pence will be looking for next month.