Carlos Pena Rumors

Minor Moves: Pena, Torrealba, Volstad, Berg, Enright, Gimenez, Wells, Fellhauer

It has been a busy day as the league returns to action out of the All-Star break. Here are today’s minor moves from around baseball …

  • First baseman Carlos Pena has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports on Twitter. Pena, 36, was designated for assignment yesterday after a rough start to his tenure in Texas.
  • Veteran backstop Yorvit Torrealba has requested and been given his release from the Cubs, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports on Twitter. The 35-year-old has a .256/.315/.379 career MLB triple-slash over 13 seasons of work. He has only seen time at the Cubs’ rookie-league affiliate this year since signing last month.
  • The Angels have signed hurler Chris Volstad to a minor league deal, according to the MLB transactions page. Volstad, a towering righty, has a 4.94 ERA over parts of six MLB seasons, working mostly as a starter until a stint last season with the Rockies. He had been pitching for the Korean Doosan Bears this season, working to a 6.21 ERA over 87 frames with just 3.3 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9.
  • Free agent righty Jeremy Berg has signed a minor league pact with the Cardinals, also via the MLB transactions page. Berg, 28, has yet to pitch in the big leagues and owns a 4.43 ERA in 256 innings at the Triple-A level. He had spent his entire career in the Angels organization.
  • The Phillies released right-hander Barry Enright today, according to the International League transactions page. The 28-year-old has struggled mightily in his most recent stints at the major league level, and carries a 5.58 ERA through 101 2/3 Triple-A innings this season with 5.7 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9.
  • The Brewers have inked catcher Hector Gimenez to a minor league deal and assigned him to Double-A Huntsville, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (on Twitter). The 31-year-old Gimenez spent some time as the White Sox’ backup catcher in 2013 but posted just a .191/.275/.338 batting line in 80 trips to the dish. He’s a lifetime .216/.280/.330 hitter in 100 big league plate appearances and is a veteran of 12 minor league seasons. He’ll provide some minor league catching depth for Milwaukee.
  • Outfielder Casper Wells has signed with the independent Atlantic League’s Bridgeport Bluefish, the club announced on its web site. Once a nice fourth outfielder for the Mariners, Wells’ stock has dropped after hitting just .126/.186/.147 for the White Sox, A’s and Phillies in 2013. He began the year with the Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate but batted just .197/.290/.230 in 69 PA with Iowa before being released.
  • The Brewers have also acquired outfielder Josh Fellhauer from the Reds in exchange for cash considerations, the team’s player development department announced (on Twitter). A former seventh-round pick, the 26-year-old Fellhauer was hitting .239/.338/.313 in 155 PA between Double-A and Triple-A this season. He’ll also report to Double-A Huntsville with the Brewers.

Rangers Designate Carlos Pena For Assignment

The Rangers announced that they have designated first baseman Carlos Pena for assignment. That move, along with yesterday’s trade of Jason Frasor to the Royals, clears 40-man and 25-man roster spots for Geovany Soto and J.P. Arencibia — both of whom will be added to the big league roster.

The veteran Pena batted .136/.190/.237 in 63 plate appearances for Texas after having his contract selected from Triple-A Round Rock. The 36-year-old had signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, who have lost first basemen Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland for the season due to injuries.

Soto will be activated from the 60-day disabled list and make his season debut for the Rangers sometime in the team’s upcoming three-game series against the Blue Jays. Arencibia, meanwhile, is a bit of an interesting story. The 28-year-old struggled tremendously with the Rangers earlier this season and was outrighted off the 40-man back in May after clearing waivers. However, he’s now picked up some experience at first base with Round Rock, and as Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports (on Twitter), that’s where the Rangers will use him this time around.


Rangers Sign Carlos Pena

7:05pm: Pena’s deal includes an August 1 opt-out clause, reports Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (via Twitter).

12:06pm: The Rangers have signed veteran first baseman Carlos Pena to a minor league deal and assigned him to Triple-A Round Rock, executive VP of communications John Blake announced (on Twitter). Pena is a client of Scott Boras.

A veteran of 13 Major League seasons, Pena is a career .233/.348/.465 hitter with 285 big league home runs. Known for his prolific home runs and strikeouts, Pena homered 28 or more times in five consecutive seasons from 2007-11, including a 46-homer campaign for the 2007 Rays. He also struck out in nearly 27 percent of his plate appearances during that time, though some of that swing-and-miss negative is erased by his power and a career 13.9 percent walk rate.

Pena has struggled over his past two big league stints, slashing .201/.327/.351, striking out in nearly 30 percent of his plate appearances. He adds some first base depth for the Rangers, who have lost Prince Fielder to the season due to a neck injury and have relied heavily on Mitch Moreland but received just a .246/.297/.347 slash line despite heavily platooning him. To make matters worse, Moreland himself now could be sidelined for the year with an ankle issue as well.

For Pena, this marks a return to the organization that selected him with the No. 10 overall pick in the 1998 draft. He appeared in just 22 games with the Rangers before being traded to the A’s. With Texas, he batted a strong .258/.361/.500 as a 23-year-old in 2001.



Carlos Pena, Chad Tracy Granted Release

The Angels announced that Carlos Pena and Chad Tracy have been granted their unconditional release.  Earlier today, Yorvit Torrealba opted out of his deal to become a free agent rather than stay with the Halos.  Today was the deadline for the club to add all three to the 40-man roster.

Pena, a 13-year MLB veteran, was an everyday player until last season.  Spending most of 2013 with the Astros, Pena slashed .207/.321/.346 in 328 plate appearances.  As that line would indicate, Pena has hung his hat on his ability to get on base via the walk, which he has done at about twice the league-average rate throughout his career.  Once a major power threat – he hit 172 home runs between 2007 and 2011 – Pena's HR/FB rate has dropped from a peak of 29.1% down to around the 15% level in recent seasons.  Pena, who signed with the Angels in late January, does not plan on retiring because "I love the way it feels when you square up a ball, when you make a good play in the field" (per MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez on Twitter).

Even though Tracy batted just .202/.243/.326 in 136 plate appearances with the Nationals in a pinch-hitting role last season, he batted .269/.343/.441 in a similar role in 2012.  Tracy broke through with an outstanding sophomore campaign with the Diamondbacks in 2005 when he belted 27 homers and slashed .308/.359/.553.  However, he's been unable to replicate that form in his subsequent big league seasons.


Angels To Sign Brennan Boesch, Carlos Pena

WEDNESDAY: Boesch would earn $800K if he makes the MLB roster, while Pena would make $1MM.

TUESDAY: The Angels have reached agreement on minor league deals with outfielder Brennan Boesch and first baseman Carlos Pena, reports Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter). Boesch, 28, is represented by CAA Sports, while the 35-year-old Pena is a client of the Boras Corporation. Both deals include Spring Training invites, tweets Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register.

Boesch saw only 53 MLB plate appearances last year, posting a .275/.302/.529 line, before he was released by the Yankees in July. The Yanks had signed Boesch to a $1.5MM deal after he was let go by the Tigers, for whom he had been a regular between 2010-12. Over that stretch, Boesch posted a .259/.315/.414 triple-slash with 42 home runs and 18 stolen bases in 1,487 plate appearances. With just over three years of MLB service to his name, Boesch comes with team control beyond the 2014 season.

Pena, a 13-year MLB veteran, was an everyday player until last season. Spending most of 2013 with the Astros, Pena slashed .207/.321/.346 in 328 plate appearances. As that line would indicate, Pena has hung his hat on his ability to get on base via the walk, which he has done at about twice the league-average rate throughout his career. Once a major power threat — he hit 172 home runs between 2007 and 2011 — Pena's HR/FB rate has dropped from a peak of 29.1% down to around the 15% level in recent seasons.


Royals To Sign Carlos Pena

The Royals have agreed to terms on a minor league deal with first baseman Carlos Pena, according to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star (Twitter link). Pena will be assigned to Triple-A Omaha.

The 35-year-old Pena hit .209/.324/.350 in 325 plate appearances for the Astros this season after signing a one-year, $2.9MM contract with Houston in the offseason. He was designated for assignment and released in  late July. In parts of 13 Major League seasons, Pena is a .233/.348/.465 hitter with 285 home runs. Pena doesn't appear to have an starting spot on the team's roster, given the presence of Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler, but he could serve as a veteran bench bat down the stretch.


Astros Release Carlos Pena

July 31: The Astros have released Pena, according to Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). The club released Cedeno on Sunday.

July 21: The Astros have designated Carlos Pena and Ronny Cedeno for assignment, Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Cedeno's departure clears the way for Jonathan Villar, who has been promoted and will be the Astros' new starting shortstop.

Pena was hitting .209/.324/.350, continuing his longstanding trend of struggling to hit for average — he still takes plenty of walks, but he hasn't posted a batting average above .227 since 2008. He signed a one-year, $2.9MM contract with the Astros in December. Brett Wallace and Chris Carter appear likely to take over much of Pena's playing time at first base.

Cedeno was hitting .220/.260/.298 in 141 at bats. He signed with the Astros in March after being released by the Cardinals. Villar, 22, was hitting .278/.342/.444 for Triple-A Oklahoma City. The Astros acquired him, along with J.A. Happ and Anthony Gose, when they sent Roy Oswalt to the Phillies in 2010.


Astros To Sign Carlos Pena

The Astros have agreed to sign Carlos Pena to a one-year contract worth $2.9MM, reports Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com. The Scott Boras client can earn another $1.4MM in incentives.

Pena, 34, is expected to split first base and DH duties with Brett Wallace according to Knobler. He hit just .197/.330/.354 in 600 plate appearances for the Rays this past season, though he did hit 19 homers as well. Pena has hit .206/.337/.408 over the last three seasons, so the Astros are counting on him to continue drawing walks and hitting the ball over the fence.

MLBTR's Tim Dierkes did not rank Pena among this winter's Top 50 Free Agents. The signing likely eliminates the possibility of a Lance Berkman reunion in Houston.


Astros Seeking Designated Hitter

WEDNESDAY, 7:52pm: The Astros have touched base with Berkman and his agent, GM Jeff Luhnow told Dave Zangaro of CSNHouston.com.  The talks are not too far along, as Luhnow expects a conclusion by early next year.

MONDAY, 12:26pm: As they prepare to move to the American League West in 2013, the Astros are looking for a player they didn't need in the National League: a designated hitter. According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (via Twitter), Houston would like to add Lance Berkman if the price is reasonable, with guys like Travis Hafner and Carlos Pena also potentially in the mix.

Berkman expressed some interest last month in rejoining the Astros, and Houston was said to be one of a handful of teams kicking the tires on the switch-hitter. However, even after an injury-plagued 2012, there's no guarantee Berkman would come cheap. Pena, coming off a .197/.330/.354 season with the Rays, and Hafner, who was limited to 63 games in '12, both figure to come cheaper than Berkman.


Red Sox Links: Haren, Victorino, First Base

The Red Sox handed out their second three-year, $39MM contract of the Winter Meetings today when they signed Shane Victorino. Here are some more links pertaining to the team…

  • Boston made a "competitive" offer to Dan Haren before he signed with the Nationals, tweets Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston.
  • Victorino's contract "vaults to the top of the rankings of the worst contracts signed so far this offseason" in the mind of ESPN's Keith Law (Insider req'd). Law writes that with a .244/.311/.391 line in his last 1388 plate appearances versus right-handed pitching, Victorino can be considered a platoon outfielder but still got paid like a starting player.
  • The Red Sox still need someone to back-up Mike Napoli at first base, writes Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com. While names like Carlos Pena and Casey Kotchman are on the market, general manager Ben Cherington would prefer the backup to be someone who can play multiple positions.