Rangers All-Star outfielder Hunter Pence may not play again this season due to a back injury, but he intends to continue his career in 2020, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.
Pence, 36, has been out since August 23 due to soreness in his lower back. It’s his second stint on the injured list in what was otherwise a lovely comeback season. Pence was thought to be retiring after two subpar, injury-plagued years with the Giants, but latched on with the Rangers on a minor league contract which guaranteed him a $2 million salary as a major leaguer. He made the team out of spring training and was voted onto the AL All-Star roster, his first All-Star nomination since 2014. Presently, Pence is batting .297/.358/.552 with 18 home runs and 59 RBI in 316 plate appearances.
Despite his rebound performance, Pence will likely have to settle for another minor league contract for the 2020 season due to his age and injury history. After playing in 160-plus games in three straight years from 2012-14, Pence has managed to play in more than 110 games just once dating back to 2015.
In March, Major League Baseball agreed to pay minor league players $400 per week while the sport is shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic. That provision is set to expire at the end of May. As Craig noted earlier, the Athletics will not be paying their minor leaguers starting on June 1.
Several teams are doing the right thing, continuing to pay their minor leaguers $400 per week through at least the end of June. Per The Athletic’s Levi Weaver and James Fegan, the Rangers and White Sox will each tack on another month of pay. The Athletic’s Dennis Lin reported earlier that the Padres will pay their players through the end of August. Craig also cited a Baseball America report from this morning, which mentioned that the Marlins will also pay their players through the end of August.
Frankly, if the Marlins can find a way to continue paying their minor league players, then every team should be able to do the same. The Marlins are widely believed to be the least profitable among the 30 major league clubs. Here’s hoping the rest of the league follows the Rangers’, White Sox’s, Padres’, and Marlins’ lead as opposed to the Athletics’.