MLB Trade Rumors: Rangers' Hunter Pence Drawing Interest from Rays

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJuly 22, 2019

ARLINGTON, TX - JUNE 02: Hunter Pence #24 of the Texas Rangers runs to third base against the Kansas City Royals during the second inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on June 2, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays are reportedly interested in acquiring Texas Rangers veteran Hunter Pence, according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network.  

While the 57-45 Rays trail the New York Yankees by nine games in the AL East, they are firmly in the Wild Card picture, lagging behind the Cleveland Indians by two games and the Oakland Athletics by one. That race remains wide open, and the defending champion Boston Red Sox sit just two games behind Tampa.

The Rays could use a bit more pop in their lineup, though. They're currently ninth in the American League in runs (466), 10th in homers (132), seventh in team batting average (.252) and ninth in team OPS (.750). 

The 36-year-old Pence could help in that regard. He's hitting .290 this season with 15 home runs and 48 RBI—a resurgent campaign for a player who hasn't hit 15 or more homers since 2014. While injuries slowed him down in recent seasons with the San Francisco Giants, Pence has been excellent in 2019 and would make sense in the designated hitter role.

His stellar season included a fourth career berth in the All-Star Game this summer.

He would also likely come for a reasonable price, given his age and the fact he'll be a free agent after the season. His postseason experience and veteran presence in the clubhouse would be another benefit for a Rays team in the middle of a playoff push.  

For the Rangers, moving Pence would free up at-bats for Willie Calhoun, who is currently playing in Triple-A. He performed well for the Rangers in limited action this season, hitting .277 with five homers, 13 RBI and 15 runs in 26 games.

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