Yankees sign one-year, $7.15 million contract with Phil Hughes, avoiding arbitration

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From beat writer Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News comes word that the Yankees have avoided arbitration with right-hander Phil Hughes by agreeing to a one-year, $7.15 million contract.

Hughes is in his third year of arbitration eligiblily. He made $2.7 million in 2011 and $3.2 million in 2012. If the Yankees don’t lock him at some point this season, he will hit free agency in the fall.

Hughes posted a decent 4.23 ERA and 1.27 WHIP across 32 starts last summer, fanning 165 batters and issuing only 46 walks. The 26-year-old owns a 4.39 career ERA and a 1.29 career WHIP through his first six major league seasons.

Hunter Pence is mashing for the Rangers

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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.