Jim Thome is waiting by the phone

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Jim Thome’s name hasn’t come up much this offseason, which is somewhat surprising for a guy who hit .249/.386/.481 with 23 homers in 434 plate appearances last year and yet not all that surprising given that he hasn’t played first base regularly since 2005.
Thome still crushes right-handed pitching, but as a 39-year-old designated hitter who’s borderline useless against left-handed pitching and offers only an emergency option at first base his potential suitors are very limited. Thome seems to have realized this three months into the offseason and made it clear yesterday that he’s basically just hoping the White Sox give him a call after dealing him to the Dodgers for the stretch run:

My door is open. All you’ve got to do is call me. We’ll see what happens. Obviously in baseball, I’ve learned that sometimes business moves are made and business decisions are made and you have to respect those decisions and move on. I want to play baseball. Right now, we’re talking to a few teams, so we’ll see what happens. It’s been a slow winter in the market, so we’re waiting to see what’s going to happen and move forward.

While certainly not the MVP-caliber offensive monster he once was, Thome remains very dangerous when spotted versus righties. Against them he batted .262/.383/.498 in 2009 and .274/.402/.552 with an average of 39 homers per 500 from 2007-2009. There are plenty of teams for whom that production would be a huge upgrade, including the White Sox, but manager Ozzie Guillen has said that he wants to keep the DH spot open for a rotation of Paul Konerko, Carlos Quentin, Andruw Jones, and Mark Kotsay.

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.