Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.com reports that Stephen Drew, sidelined since the end of the World Series after no one bit on him in the free agency market due to the compensation pick attached to him, has a job at long last. He’s back where he was last year: on a one-year deal with the Boston Red Sox. And, since he is going back to Boston, obviously no compensation pick attaches.
Heyman says the deal is for a pro-rated version of the $14 million he would’ve received from the Sox if he had accepted the qualifying offer they made him last fall. Or, roughly, $10 million. Of course the reason Drew didn’t accept the offer is that he and his agent Scott Boras assumed they could do better than that on the market. That decision cost Drew $4 million and a good chunk of 2014.
But now he has a home. One which needs him, frankly, due to the ineffectiveness of and then the injury to third baseman Will Middlebrooks. One suspects that Drew will move into the shortstop position he occupied last year and Xander Bogaerts will move back to third, though Drew can handle third as well if Boston decides that it wants Bogaerts to be their shortstop now and forever.
That leaves Kendrys Morales as the last of the players put in limbo due to receiving qualifying offers last year.
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.