Rays, Carlos Pena “Deep” In Talks

The Rays are "in pretty deep" on Carlos Pena, their first baseman from 2007-10, Yahoo's Tim Brown tweets. The Boras Corporation represents the first baseman, who's one of the top free agents remaining.

Pena, 33, posted a .225/.357/.462 line with 28 home runs in 606 plate appearances for the Cubs in 2011. Just 9.36% of 15,700 people who participated in MLBTR's December poll expected Pena to return to Tampa Bay. He earned $10MM in 2011, when the Rays spent $42MM on their entire Major League payroll.

The Rays, who recently signed Luke Scott, still have an opening at first base. Casey Kotchman played the position in 2011 and would sign elsewhere — possibly in Cleveland — if the Rays complete a deal with Pena. Pena averaged 36 home runs and a .238/.368/.516 line in his four seasons in Tampa Bay.

This post was first published January 20th, 2012.


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57 Comments on "Rays, Carlos Pena “Deep” In Talks"


3 years 7 months ago

Great sign if they complete it. I guess this puts Damon atop the Yankees’ list for DHs.

JB3
3 years 7 months ago

* this puts the Yankees atop Damon’s list

3 years 7 months ago

At this point, it looks like he would play anywhere.

JB3
3 years 7 months ago

True, but doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a list too.  I can think of a couple bats the Yankees would rather have at DH than Damon.

sourbob
3 years 7 months ago

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankees deal for Brandon Allen.

3 years 7 months ago

They won’t. He’s not any good.

sourbob
3 years 7 months ago

He’s got a whopping 324 AB in the majors, so probably a little early to tell. His career AAA OPS is 956, though. And he’s just 25.

Anyway, even if you don’t care for Allen, look at how the Yankees are handling their budget this year. Given that a LH platoon bat for DH is a luxury for them, not a necessity, do you really see them adding $10MM onto their payroll for the likes of Pena? A young, cost-controlled guy makes more sense for them right now, whether it’s Allen or someone else.

Lunchbox45
3 years 7 months ago

he’s 25 and only has 324 AB’s in the majors, that in itself tells you a lot.

Thomas Wilson
3 years 7 months ago

Eric Young Jr. had a .363/.454/.552 line in that AAA league last year as a 26 yo

sourbob
3 years 7 months ago

Bill James projects Young for a 695 OPS in Colorado in 2011. He’s got Allen for a 776 in Oakland. So that';s a pretty far gap.

He’s got Pena for an 814 in Chicago. Is that enough of a difference over a guy like Allen to justify a $9.5MM salary gap to a team with luxury tax issues?

sourbob
3 years 7 months ago

I’m not going to waste a lot of typing defending Brandon Allen, as though the idea that he has promise is something weird I just made up. Go ahead and Google “Free Brandon Allen” if you like. 

In any case, my point seems to be getting lost here. Which is, since a LH platoon DH is a luxury, not a necessity for the Yanks, making a deal for one of the many blocked youngish guys fitting that description (if you don’t like Allen, there are probably a dozen others you could choose from) makes more sense than increasing their luxury tax bill for someone like Pena.

scott brecht
3 years 7 months ago

depends on the years and money.  I think he is worth 2 years/15 mil after watching him all last season.  he can dig a ball at first as good as anyone, but d. lee was a lot better at going off the bag for a wild throw.

3 years 7 months ago

would been a good fit for ny

3 years 7 months ago

DO IT! DO IT NOOWWWW

LUWahooNatFan
3 years 7 months ago

Hope they don’t impregnate him

3 years 7 months ago

How long until this comment gets removed? MLBTR police on the way!

Mycahp
3 years 7 months ago

This would be a wonderful, proven power upgrade for the Rays. Jennings -> Zobrist -> Longoria -> Pena -> Scott is a pretty darn good beginning to a lineup. 

He is also a fan favorite, which helps a lot.

KJ4realz
3 years 7 months ago

Add Joyce there too. He’d be a Better 5 option over Scott too as much as I like Scott. They’d probably need to platoon a heck of a lot though. Scott, Joyce, Pena, almost certainly aren’t capable of playing a full season batting against LHP most specifically Scott.

Mycahp
3 years 7 months ago

I like Joyce, just not sure if he is a middle-of-the-lineup kind of guy.

PennMariner
3 years 7 months ago

He has a career ISO of .223 and a career OPS of .828. Seems more than acceptable to warrant a spot in the middle of the order.

3 years 7 months ago

I’m sure Maddon will figure something out.  I’m guessing Guyer would help out with LHP.  If Luke Scott returns to his old form, he should be able to handle it as well; perhaps we see him play 1B every now and then against lefties. 

Mikey Roederer
3 years 7 months ago

I think Pena doesn’t really need a platoon partner..you cant take anything Quade did last year as relevant, he was taking the bat out of our four hitter and giving it to an 8 hitter because of righty/lefty matchups..Pena’s avg went up some last year, and really seemed to be going in the right direction until baldy screwed him up

Fernando O'Connor
3 years 7 months ago

Bring Pena back! Sure, he may strikeout alot but he’s clutch and hits bombs. If only we could bring back Jason Bartlett from the Padres to be our shortstop again(only if they plan on using R.Brigniac at SS -_- )Almost like a 2008 reunion to go back to the world series.

Mycahp
3 years 7 months ago

Just with a much improved rotation. And a full season of Jennings. 

Lunchbox45
3 years 7 months ago

Only problem is that 2008 the AL really wasn’t overly strong..

TB will always have a chance because of their rotation, but the Sox, yanks, Tex, Angels, Tigers are all pretty daunting competition.

Will be an interesting year for sure.

Fernando O'Connor
3 years 7 months ago

Texas wasn’t on the radar but the angels were still good. and in place of the tigers you had the twins. But yea, good point

Lunchbox45
3 years 7 months ago

The Rays have the best or atleast top 2 rotation in the AL.. Matt Moore will be fun to watch, and Price will hopefully not be as unlucky as last year.

The team will live and die by the strength of their rotation and their ability to be opportunistic.. which historically Maddon has been good at extracting.

I just don’t see the Red Sox having those 2 terrible months this year, and the AL west might have a strong wild card contender as well.. 

I’d love it if Friedman would flip a few prospects and bring in another impact bat to help Longoria, it’s just not his m.o

johnsmith4
3 years 7 months ago

Tampa can only afford so many good players in their Arb years.  If you are not a cornerstone player, expect to get traded for good prospects in their pre-arb years.

Lunchbox45
3 years 7 months ago

They have a top farm system, they can afford to bring in a cornerstone player.

its hard to knock friedman, the guy is pretty much brilliant and has created a young exciting team with literally no money..

However the one criticism I have of him is that he’s somewhat undersold how good the club is and failed to add finishing pieces to take them all the way..
They’ve been one bat away for a few years now, and simply adding prospects (jennings) while losing players (crawford) just becomes spinning wheels.

Fine you don’t have money for a fielder.. but use some prospects that may  be blocked in the immediate future and bring in an impact bat.

johnsmith4
3 years 7 months ago

I think your point is valid.  But, I must add, it seems like Tampa tries to fill the 5th spot in their batting order by gambling on veterans near the end of their career who are traditionally strong in wOBA.  Signing Damon and Ramirez in the last two years typifies this approach.  These gambles have not turn out well for them which lends support to your argument.

When taking this approach, it seems like they are managing future payroll in addition to present payroll.  I imagine it is done to have as much flexibility when dealing with arbitration players.

So, although their present payroll projects to $59.1 mil, their 2014 payroll projects to $86.8 mil if they exercise all team options.  This must be an issue for them which also constrains them when addressing today’s 1B problem.  Thus, undercutting the pragmatism of your suggestion.

Fernando O'Connor
3 years 7 months ago

+1 billion. 

Lars Chunks
3 years 7 months ago

Gonna be funny to watch him go back to being terrible in the AL.  Can’t wait to see him hit under .200.  By the way, there’s zero chance that this guy’s only 33 years old.

Mycahp
3 years 7 months ago

I will take a 46 homerun / 121 RBI season any day — especially when it’s combined with Gold Glove defense and 100+ walks and behind Longoria.

GlassJawn
3 years 7 months ago

He was terrible in the NL too.  He had his worst power numbers in about 5 seasons last year and his batting average and OBP were identical to his 09 numbers.  

Lunchbox45
3 years 7 months ago

Trade shields and upton for young prospects, sign fielder.

this would be awesome.

Fernando O'Connor
3 years 7 months ago

shields yes but upton,i would have to disagree. its a contract year for him. this is the most production we’ll get out him since the 2008 post season.

YankeePhan1234
3 years 7 months ago

Lol…GL fitting that 200 million salary in there, pretty sure Fielder alone would be 50%+ of their payroll

Fernando O'Connor
3 years 7 months ago

Just about

Lunchbox45
3 years 7 months ago

Well they would be shedding the contracts of Shields and Upton

diesel2410
3 years 7 months ago

I completely agree. They get a huge bat in the lineup and still get prospects to compete when Fielder leaves

Gibson17
3 years 7 months ago

How much $ do the Rays have for Pena?  I find it hard to believe they are going to pay him $10 million.  If it’s less than $5 million, why wouldn’t the Yankees get him for a couple more than that?

This sounds like a Boras ploy to try to get Pena more $.

Onetimeaccount
3 years 7 months ago

The Rays have a limited payroll yes, but they’ve repeatedly said that there is no cap limit on any player if they feel the need to go out and get him
(Within reason of course). Boras has played nice with Friedman before, so I have no reason to believe its merely a ploy.
..and if Boras wants to get more money for Pena, you don’t negotiate with the Rays to start.

Gibson17
3 years 7 months ago

Yes and no.

Yes, they have said they’ll add payroll, but if the price is $10 million, I don’t see the Rays going there.  Cots has them at $46 million right now, so to pay Pena $10 million, which is 50% more than they are paying anyone else seems unlikely.  I like him, but he isn’t so good that they can pay him almost 20% of their payroll.

Yes, Boras has played nice with Friedman and Pena played there, that is why it makes for a nice bluff…it is *some* reality to it.

Why use the Rays?  Who else is there?  His market is pretty thin, so you have to do what you can.

Onetimeaccount
3 years 7 months ago

As of right now the Rays payroll will be about 56mil.

When they say they would add payroll, they don’t mean a measly 4 mil. Even in 2010 when they were looking for a hitter before the deadline, owner Stu Sternberg said money is not an option because this season could be special. When they say theres no cap on signing someone they want (within reason) I choose to believe there’s no cap.
They even signed a closer for 7 million for the 2010 season. You don’t see them signing a hitter for 10m?

So if Boras has to use the Rays, all of a sudden other teams will be interested when there were no teams interested?

Gibson17
3 years 7 months ago

The only people who *know* if they’ll add $10 million to payroll are Friedman and Sternberg.  I just don’t see it, but I could totally be wrong.

It seems to look like a bluff to me to get the Yankees, or another team, to get their act in gear and make a big(ger) offer for Pena.  If the Tigers didn;t come out and say what they did after Martinez got hurt, I would have expected Boras to leak info about the Tigers being in the mix for him. 

It comes down to this for me: who has the money to spend and the roster spot for his skills.  It is a tiny group of teams that fit both of these criteria.

Again, I could be totally wrong here and Pena could sign for $4 million because he really likes the Rays.  I just don’t see it that way right now.

johnsmith4
3 years 7 months ago

Boras getting Yankees into a bidding war with Tampa?  Sheesh…that sounds desperate.

Tampa paid Damon $5.25 mil last year.  I can’t see them paying more than $2 mil per WAR for a 1B/DH.  Can’t see them paying Pena more than $5.5 mil.

diesel2410
3 years 7 months ago

If the Rays get Pena, they should be the favorites in the AL. Tell me I’m wrong, but their offense is much improved and so is their rotation. This team has the tools to go all the way

Lunchbox45
3 years 7 months ago

adding Pena isn’t going to make any team a favourite..

On paper I still think the Rays trail the Yanks and the Red sox.. but the rays rotation makes it close enough that anything can happen..

but they definetely aren’t favourites.

johnsmith4
3 years 7 months ago

I see Rays dog fighting with Red Sox while Yankees run way ahead of them.

diesel2410
3 years 7 months ago

The team lacked power last year, and Pena adds a bunch. Maybe not the favorites, but anything short of a WS would be a disappointment 

Lunchbox45
3 years 7 months ago

yes, but you have to factor that the yankees, sox, angels, have improved you have to factor that in.

heck even the jays have improved, they won’t compete for a playoff spot, but they will still be a tougher opponent

diesel2410
3 years 7 months ago

The Sox haven’t improved all that much. Paps > Bailey and they got Melancon. Melancon has had 1 good year?

3 years 7 months ago

I was optimistic playing at Wrigley would increase Pena’s power numbers last year, but it didn’t seem to come out that way. I think playing in Yankee Stadium would definitely increase his SLG%. Regardless, this guy needs to platoon wherever he goes, and does not need to see a lefty all year.

3 years 7 months ago

 Pena’s not worth half what he makes.

dskirsa
3 years 7 months ago

in pretty deep…heh

I guess this eliminates the Tiger’s best option. Something tells me the Tigers do nothing but go after Yoenis but don’t sign him.  If they do get him, they’ll likely over pay for a guy that may not be ready for prime time until mid-summer if not next year.

johnsmith4
3 years 7 months ago

Well….just read Rays paying Pena $7.2mil for one year.  So much for my no more than $5.5 mil idea.

Mikey Roederer
3 years 7 months ago

hey they have a full bar now….so…..just saying its a Family Establishment