3:04pm: MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets that Pence’s deal has a $2MM base salary and another $1.25MM worth of incentives available to him
2:44pm: The Rangers announced Thursday that they’ve signed outfielder Hunter Pence to a minor league contract and invited him to Major League Spring Training. It’s a homecoming of sorts for Pence, a native of Fort Worth who attended high school in Arlington. The team also confirmed its previously reported signing of corner infielder/pitcher Matt Davidson.
Pence, 36 in April, was long one of the game’s more productive right fielders but has seen his production at the plate wane over the past two seasons. Dating back to the 2017 season, he’s mustered just a .249/.297/.368 slash with 17 homers, 24 doubles and six triples in 792 plate appearances with the Giants. He’ll look to rediscover some semblance of his peak form — .282/.341/.463 from 2011-16 — in his new deal with Texas. The veteran has been open about the work he’s been doing to make alterations to his swing in an effort to bounce back at the plate.
The Rangers currently have Joey Gallo, Delino DeShields Jr. and Nomar Mazara lined up around the outfield, with Shin-Soo Choo slotted in at designated hitter and prospect Willie Calhoun looming as an option in left field and at DH. Pence, though, could plausibly compete for a bench job given the uncertainty beyond the Rangers’ starting lineup. At the moment, one of Jeff Mathis or Isiah Kiner-Falefa (whichever isn’t catching that day) is the only real lock for a bench spot with the Rangers. Calhoun, infielder Patrick Wisdom and center fielder Carlos Tocci all figure to compete for a reserve gig as well, though all have minor league options remaining.