The Braves seem pretty set on trading Jair Jurrjens. I’m OK with that. They have oodles of starting pitching coming up through the system and they’re not going to be able to keep both Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson as each of them get expensive. Trade JJ and get a shortstop or a bat or some good depth or something, right?
But they won’t trade him just anywhere. Jon Heyman says that the Braves will not trade Jair Jurrjens within the division, thereby rendering inquiries from the Marlins and Nationals moot. I get that. As a lot of people say, you don’t want your former player to come back and haunt you over and over.
Although in this case I choose to believe it’s more like the rules that apply to selling a used car to someone you’re gonna have to see a lot of. I mean, I like Jurrjens, but I have little faith that his knees aren’t going to continue to give him trouble or that his strikeout rate is going to come back to bite him and that ERA is gonna balloon up. Maybe Frank Wren doesn’t care, but I think it would be awkward to see the exec you ripped off 18 times a 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.