Melvin Roman, the Puerto Rico-based agent for Korean third baseman Jeong Choi, told Jon Heyman of CBS Sports on Sunday that his client is seriously considering leaving the KBO’s SK Wyverns after the 2014 season. “He has a strong desire to come and play in the major leagues,” Roman said.
Choi, who has been compared to Mets star David Wright for his good looks and well-rounded skillset, hit 28 home runs with a .429 on-base percentage and .551 slugging percentage in 2013 for SK Wyverns.
The 27-year-old has managed an OPS over .900 in four straight Korean Baseball Organization seasons.
Heyman suspects that the Diamondbacks, White Sox, and Red Sox could all be in the market for a big-time third baseman next winter — along with the Padres and Giants. Pablo Sandoval, Chase Headley, and Aramis Ramirez are among the current major league third basemen headed for the free agent market.
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.