It's oh so quiet in free agency

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It could be something spooky and
nefarious like collusion, or perhaps that general managers have become more savvy about how they spend their team’s money (Jim Hendry
excluded, of course), but Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports notices that
there’s a striking difference between this offseason and 2006-07:

Thus far, more than halfway through the 2009-10 free agent signing
period, teams have given only seven players contracts of three years or
longer. In 2006-07, 31 players received deals of three or more years.


They handed out 29 multi-year contracts that averaged more than $5
million per season. This offseason, owners have given out a dozen
multiyear, $5 million-a-season deals.

The most significant difference? The
big-bank free agents. Teams coughed up over $100 million for Alfonso
Soriano, Barry Zito, Carlos Lee and Daisuke Matsuzaka that winter. On the heels of
a recession, this offseason is a different animal, with less premium
players seemingly entering their prime seasons, like the ones mentioned above. It’s possible that
Jason Bay could have found a $100 million contract in the past, but
that doesn’t mean it would have been wise. Matt Holliday, who turns 30 this month, is the only one
worthy of the threshold in the current marketplace, and there’s
increasing indications
that he’ll get there.

Obviously something has changed between then and now, but perhaps the biggest casualty is someone like me. Granted it’s January 2nd, but I’m sitting here recapping someone else’s article about the lack of activity in the free agent marketplace. It’s a sad state of affairs. Someone please rescue us from this current state of Hot Stove boredom.

Hunter Pence is mashing for the Rangers

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Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.

Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.

Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.

What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.

That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.