Four weeks ago the Yankees sent cash to the Phillies for Chad Qualls, but after eight unimpressive appearances he’s on the move again. New York has sent Qualls to Pittsburgh for Casey McGehee, who became superfluous as a right-handed-hitting third baseman/first baseman once the Pirates acquired Gaby Sanchez from the Marlins today.
Neither player has been much good this season. Qualls has a 4.89 ERA and 21/12 K/BB ratio in 39 innings overall, including allowing five runs in 7.1 innings since the Yankees got him from the Phillies. McGehee has hit just .230 with a .674 OPS and was even worse last year, hitting .223 with a .626 OPS.
This is about as low-wattage as a deadline deal involving two veteran players can possibly get.
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.