I got a song (or two) in my heart this afternoon, I can't helps it! Maybe the songs aren't good ones, but still...
Alyson Footer tweets that Hunter and the Astros have (if you couldn't tell yet) met halfway between each side's offers and agreed on a 1 yr/$3.5 million contract for this season. Outside of this being extremely reasonable for a player who is 26, only getting better, and a fan favorite, the avoidance of arbitration is a good beacon for future negotiations, in my opinion. I don't know for certain if Pence would have held an arbitration hearing against the Astros, but it couldn't have been much of a good thing for the two sides to have to let a neutral decide Pence's value. Compromise was the name of the game.
I wrote about Hunter, arbitration and his free agent value in a post earlier in the week, so I don't have much more to offer on the subject. There are, of course, advantages to not signing Pence to a multi year deal, including the fact that we just don't know what kind of player Pence will become. With promising outfield talent in the lower levels of the minor leagues, Hunter's role may be to remain a relatively cheap, solid to good outfielder until youngsters like TJ Steele, Jay Austin, Jon Gaston, or even JD Martinez are ready to contribute for the Astros.
This signing leaves Wandy Rodriguez and Tim Byrdak as the remaining two Astros who are arbitration eligible and have yet to have agreed to a 2010 contract with the team. If Wandy can approach his 2009 statistics this season, he may want to hold off on agreeing to any multi year extension this offseason. As for Byrdak, he is expendable and his skills are replaceable.