On December 23rd, I reported that the Pirates had made a $3 million offer to Octavio Dotel to be their closer. The team denied it. Today, however, Dejan Kovacevic says that “Dotel is one of several relievers the team has offered a contract,” and that they have “zeroed in” on him. He notes that that Dotel won’t make what he made last year, but last year he made $6 million.
Gee, I wonder if it was at all possible that my source was telling me the truth and the Pirates were being less than candid in their denial. Ah, forget it. The Pirates always tell the truth.
Anyway, whether the offer came in December or this morning, based on Kovacevic’s report, it looks like Dotel is going to be the closer in Pittsburgh this year.
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.