Jason Kubel left Minnesota to sign a two-year, $16 million deal with Arizona following the 2011 season, but after one good year and one bad year Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com reports that he’s returning to the Twins on a minor-league deal.
At this point in his career Kubel should really be a platoon designated hitter, which would keep him from having to play defense or face left-handed pitching, but the Twins already have a few guys who fit those descriptions.
Kubel hit just .216 with five homers and a .610 OPS in 97 games for the Diamondbacks and Indians for by far the worst numbers of his career at age 31, but in 2012 he batted .253 with 30 homers and an .833 OPS.
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.