Free agency is a breeze for a good lefty reliever.
According to beat writer James Wagner of the Washington Post, free agent left-hander Mike Gonzalez said in a phone interview on Saturday morning that he’s already drawn interest from 10 different teams this offseason. Nationals included.
“They’ve had a couple conversations,” Gonzalez said of the team that signed him to a minor league deal early this summer. “[My agent] told me that they’re definitely interested and I’m definitely interested. It’s going to be good. We haven’t started throwing money there. But there’s interest on every side.”
Gonzalez posted a solid 3.03 ERA and 39/16 K/BB ratio in 35 2/3 innings this season for Washington while holding left-handed batters to a .179/.257/.269 slash line. The 34-year-old owns a 2.94 career ERA.
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.