Texas Rangers DH Hunter Pence has reportedly drawn interest from the Tampa Bay Rays. Expect his name to come up a few more times in the rumor mill.
Per MLB insider Jon Morosi, the Tampa Bay Rays have ‘inquired’ on Texas Rangers DH Hunter Pence. Pence, 36, is hitting .290 with 15 home runs and a .930 OPS in 60 games this season. He has been the club’s biggest surprise, which says a lot, as surprises have come as an embarrassment of riches for the Rangers in 2019.
Unfortunately (and, perhaps fortunately), Texas is in a position to sell off any overachieving talent for prospects prior to the July 31st trade deadline. Pence has been remarkable this year, providing rare consistency in the lineup and manning a place in the heart of the order basically since the start. He’s been so good that there’s a good chance he’ll play himself out of town.
The Rays being interested in him makes perfect sense. Tampa has a very outside shot at catching the Yankees in the American League East, though they’re right in the thick of things in the Wild Card hunt. A small market team like the Rays is going to do all it can to capitalize on a playoff opportunity, and a trade is directly in their wheelhouse.
Tampa can pitch; however, they’re a modest offensive bunch. They rank 9th in the AL in runs scored, 9th in OPS and 10th in home runs. Assuming Hunter Pence keeps up the good work, he will surely help the Rays improve in each of those categories.
On top of his bat, the 13-year veteran is the owner of two World Series rings and is widely known as one of the most beloved clubhouse guys in all of baseball. It’s no wonder his name has come up in this rumor. Don’t be surprised if his name comes up in additional trade rumors as well.
The Texas Rangers signed Pence to a minor league contract this past offseason. They don’t have much of a commitment to him, and it wouldn’t make much sense for them to keep him around given his value. He was raised in the area and he went to college in the area, so the door will likely remain open for him to return to the Rangers in the future.
Maybe Hunter Pence won’t be dealt, but don’t get your hopes up. I’ll give it a 25% chance that finishes the 2019 season with the Rangers.