Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Wednesday evening that Brian Wilson has begun to turn the corner in his recovery from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery. So it stands to reason that the free agent reliever is now starting to talk with teams that want to sign him.
According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, the Mets are “showing strong interest” in Wilson and sent general manager Sandy Alderson to a private workout with the right-hander on Saturday. They’re presumably viewing him as a low-risk, high-reward type of guy who could be flipped for youth at this year’s trade deadline if he enjoys a decent first half.
The Mets’ current closer, Frank Francisco, posted an ugly 5.53 ERA and 1.61 WHIP across 42 1/3 innings last summer for New York. He’s entering the final chapter of a two-year, $12 million contract.
Wilson, who should ne near full strength on Opening Day, owns a 3.21 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.