According to Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com “the Rangers continue to keep in contact with Vladimir Guerrero’s agent, but don’t appear to be in any rush to nail down what they’ll do about the designated hitter position in 2011.”
Other veteran DH options like Hideki Matsui, Jack Cust, Lance Berkman, and Pat Burrell are off the market, but there’s still no shortage of capable bats looking for one-year deals if the Rangers can’t find common ground with Guerrero.
He’s said to be seeking a two-year contract, but at age 36 the Rangers surely want to avoid a multi-year commitment and Guerrero’s lackluster late-season performance was worrisome following a very strong first half.
General manager Jon Daniels talked about potentially finding a DH who offered “a little bit more flexible roster” than Guerrero, who was exposed badly when spotted in right field during the playoffs.
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.