The trade deadline is creeping up, and a few names pop up for candidates to be moved. A compelling case is Rangers All-Star Hunter Pence. Pence signed a minor league contract late in the offseason, and the results couldn’t have been better. A winner of the Rangers Heart and Hustle award and selected to start the 2019 All-Star game, Pence is a tool that any organization could use down the stretch.
Congratulations to @HunterPence for winning the @Rangers Heart and Hustle award. No player is more deserving than him.#TogetherWe pic.twitter.com/t9rCgWVu6X
— FOX Sports Southwest (@FOXSportsSW) July 17, 2019
Being a part of a deal and changing teams at the deadline is not a new phenomenon for Hunter Pence. Teams have dealt Pence at the deadline twice throughout his big league career. In 2011, the Houston Astros traded Hunter to the Philadelphia Phillies who won 102 games that season but lost to St. Louis in the NLDS. In 2012, the Phillies traded Pence to the San Francisco Giants where Hunter quickly became a fan favorite. The Giants ended up winning their second World Series in three years at the end of the season.
“It’s always different, I mean I’m here now. It’s just part of baseball.” Hunter said before Wednesday game against Arizona. “Sometimes they are exciting opportunities like both times I got traded I was sad to leave all my friends and it’s an emotional roller coaster but you’re also excited to go to a new city. Both times I got traded to a team that was in a playoff push, so there [were] exciting parts.”
What Hunter Pence brings to this club, or any club for that matter, more than anything is a positive outlook. That’s not saying that all other Major Leaguers are downers, it’s just that Pence ALWAYS puts a positive twist on everything he does. Hunter responded if anything ever ruffles his feathers. “I don’t know. Everyone’s got to figure out for themselves if they want to be happy or how to live their [lives], and sometimes it’s okay to be mad or sad or whatever. I’m not saying that’s not valid, it’s very valid. I don’t know, I love playing baseball, and I’m happy to be here. That’s just where I’m at right now.”
Rangers manager Chris Woodward raved about Hunter Pence’s mentality in general. “He is on a different level; it’s been a pleasure to talk to him about [the attitude]. It’s a lot of the same mentality that I’m trying to bring here. That’s why he was so important for our culture. Creating that belief he has, [and] can’t tell him otherwise, and it’s infectious. I know the power of that because I tried to be that guy.”
With all this said, Hunter Pence is under a one-year deal. The main question the Rangers need to ask is what their plans are with Pence? If Texas decides they want to extend Hunter, then the choice is clear. That is, unless any barring potluck of offers from other clubs. However, if Pence doesn’t follow suit, it would be in the Rangers best interest to advertise for Pence and get at least some piece in return.
What hurts the Rangers, if the plan is to sell, is the groin injury he suffered last month in Cincinnati. The club activated Hunter before Tuesday’s game, and while the groin doesn’t affect his swing, Pence hasn’t reached one-hundred percent running the bases, and won’t play in the outfield for at least a week. However, for Hunter, he’s not at all worried, regardless of the outcome. “I just love being a part of major league baseball, being a part of a team and what the front office decides, we have to support that because we’re playing for them. They’re the ones that chose us to be here. I think they know what they’re doing and it’s above my pay grade.” Pence later added, “I’m happy to be playing baseball and happy to be a part of the Texas Rangers where I grew up.”
Dealing Hunter Pence does open an outfield spot on the roster. Upon activating Pence, the club sent Willie Calhoun down due to the overabundance of outfielders on the roster. Honestly, this decision boils down to two things. First, is Hunter Pence coming back next season in a Rangers uniform? Second, what are other teams willing to give to the Rangers? The club may be able to replace the offensive numbers Pence brings. However, it’s almost impossible to duplicate the demeanor that Pence produces.
#Rangers DH Hunter Pence could be disappointed that his injury will keep him out of the All-Star Game, after he was named a starter last week.
Instead, listen to him spit some wisdom… pic.twitter.com/PsEiEFnHrx
— Mike Leslie (@MikeLeslieWFAA) July 4, 2019
In outweighing the pros and cons, I believe the Rangers should hang on to Hunter Pence. The fans love him and he brings positive energy to a clubhouse of young guys and to an organization that is still rebuilding. General managers rave about the necessity of these type of players, to keep the focus on day in and day out. Chris Woodward stated multiple times that this is the reason why the Rangers signed Hunter Pence this offseason.
It seems that everyone, the fans, front office, players, and the outsiders are keeping tabs on if the Rangers make a deal, everyone, except Hunter Pence, who only worries about two things: the present moment and baseball. “This is like a life lesson for everyone,” Pence said with a huge grin on his face. “What’s the key to worrying about the future is to be locked into the present. These are things you can’t control. You always are hoping that you get additions and you make a charge to go win the World Series. We are all excited. We feel good of who we have. We have a great collection of talent and we are staying dialed in to prepare for the game today. That keeps me as happy as can be, and I think anyone that’s alive and breathing can attest to that when you get worried about the future and things you can’t control, it stresses you out and it’s not good for you.”
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