Carlos Pena Rumors

Poll: Which Team Will Sign Carlos Pena?

It’s been a very slow offseason for Carlos Pena, at least in terms of hot stove rumors. The 33-year-old first baseman was understandably overshadowed by Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder heading into free agency, and even now he’s still playing second fiddle to Fielder, a fellow Scott Boras client.

Pena is one of the best remaining free agent power hitters, hitting at least 28 homers in each of the last five seasons. Although his batting average (.216 from ’09-’11) leaves much to be desired, he still draws plenty of walks (walked in 15.6% of his plate appearances from ’09-’11) and gets on base at a solid clip (.346 OBP from ’09-’11). Pena is generally regarded as a strong defender at first, but he’s going to need a platoon partner after hitting just .179/.306/.398 against southpaws from ’09-’11.

Boras is confident that he’ll get multiyear offers for Pena, who is a Type-B free agent and will not require the signing team to forfeit a draft pick. The Blue Jays, Brewers, Indians, Mariners, Nationals, Orioles, Pirates, Rangers, and Rays are all in the hunt for an upgrade at first base/designated hitter, and we shouldn’t rule out a return to the Cubs either.



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NL Central Notes: K-Rod, Pena, Phillips, Pirates

Here's the latest from Albert Pujols' former division…

  • "A handful of teams" are interested in Brewers reliever Francisco Rodriguez, reports FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.  Though Rodriguez's 2012 salary is projected as around $13MM through arbitration, the Brewers don't necessarily plan to trade him until they know if Rodriguez is content being John Axford's set-up man.  Yesterday, MLBTR's Steve Adams examined how Rodriguez's decision to accept arbitration affects the Brewers' offseason plans.
  • Carlos Pena is "in play" as a possibility for the Cardinals, tweets Jon Heyman of MLB Network.  Heyman hasn't heard anything yet about the Cards possibly entering the Prince Fielder sweepstakes.
  • David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution hears from a friend of Tony La Russa that the ex-Cardinals skipper had already made up his mind about retirement two months before the World Series.
  • The Reds met with Brandon Phillips' agents on Wednesday and presented a new contract offer, reports John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer.  “I don’t know if they were completely happy…they didn’t agree to it,” said Reds GM Walt Jocketty.  Fay's piece also mentions that the Reds were planning to make a pick in yesterday's Rule 5 draft, but the player was gone before Cincinnati would draft in the 14th overall spot.
  • The Pirates took the "portfolio approach" at the Winter Meetings, GM Neal Huntington tells Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  The Bucs addressed several needs during the Meetings and Huntington said the team has enough payroll flexibility to make more moves if necessary this offseason.
  • Contract details for some of these new Pirates are provided by MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch.
  • The Astros have some quality prospects, but John Manuel of Baseball America writes that their farm system still needs major help after years of bad drafts.

Boras On Fielder, Rays, Dodgers, Damon

Agent Scott Boras held court in Dallas tonight, providing updates on his many free agent clients and entertaining reporters with quips along the way. Here are the details:

  • Boras made it clear that Prince Fielder has drawn lots of interest this offseason. The agent explained that Fielder compares favorably to all-time greats such as Jimmie Foxx and suggested teams will look to lock Fielder up for as long as possible if they recognize his potential as someone who can produce at the plate for the better part of a decade while boosting TV ratings and attendance (Boras' arguments, not mine). He played down concerns about Fielder's body, suggested he's just entering his prime and argued that comparable free agent power hitters won't be available any time soon.
  • Fielder doesn't have any geographical preference as to where he signs, tweets Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star. Boras quipped that the distance from home plate to the outfield fence is the only geography concerning Fielder. For more on Fielder, click here.
  • Generally speaking, Boras explained that Seattle and Milwaukee are desirable places to play because they have the potential to draw substantial crowds. He also said "the city [of Los Angeles] is waiting for the return of the Dodgers" and praised the Dodgers as a storied franchise in American sports.
  • Johnny Damon played "very well" in 2011, according to Boras. He joked that 38-year-old is in line for a five-year deal, though a one-year contract is probable in reality. Boras half-jokingly suggested the Rays "have lots of money" despite their perennially low payrolls. 
  • Carlos Pena will likely have multiyear offers, Boras said.
  • Asked if Kyle Lohse could waive his no-trade clause, Boras replied that he thinks Lohse is happy in St. Louis, tweets B.J. Rains of Fox Sports Midwest.
  • The market for Ivan Rodriguez is narrowing, tweets Amanda Comak of the Washington Times. The Nationals aren't in on Pudge, tweets Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
  • The Nats have some interest in bringing back Rick Ankieltweets Comak.
  • Boras expects Daisuke Matsuzaka to be healthy and return "sometime this summer," tweets Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.
  • J.D. Drew is undecided on whether he'll play in 2012. It would have to be the right situation.
  • Andruw Jones would've liked more playing time in 2011, but understands he won't be a full-time player, tweets MLB.com's Bryan Hoch. A deal with the Yankees is likely in the coming weeks, tweets Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.
  • The Braves haven't progressed toward an extension for Michael Bourn, tweets Stephen Goff of Examiner.com.

MLBTR's Luke Adams co-wrote this post.



Free Agent Arbitration Offer Decisions

37 free agents were offered arbitration in November, but Jonathan Papelbon, Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, Rod Barajas, Clint Barmes, Matt CappsBruce Chen, David DeJesus, Ryan Doumit, Mark Ellis, Frank Francisco, Freddy Garcia, Aaron Harang, Ramon Hernandez, Jose Molina, Jon Rauch, and Mark Buehrle have already reached agreements.  The deadline is tonight at 11pm central time.  For MLBTR's handy chart that can be filtered by team, type, and whether the player was offered and/or accepted, click here.


Cubs Rumors: Zambrano, Pena, Lopez

Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune has several Cubs issues packed into his latest article. Here are the highlights:

  • After meeting with new president Theo Epstein, Carlos Zambrano has told friends he thinks he will remain a Cub in 2012. Sullivan writes that Zambrano will still have to convince both new and pre-existing front office members that he's serious about making amends with his teammates.
  • Epstein praised Carlos Pena and said that the club's arbitration offer by no means shuts the door on Pena's time with the team. Epstein expects Pena to decline arbitration but will continue discussions to bring him back. "He'd be an asset to the Cubs or any team," said Epstein of Pena.
  • The Cubs have interest in bringing back Rodrigo Lopez as rotation depth.
  • Starlin Castro won't be moved from shortstop in the near future for defensive reasons. Epstein feels defense is one area players can "absolutely, 100 percent get better with hard work."
  • New manager Dale Sveum may bring in Dave McKay, a longtime coaching associate of Tony La Russa, as a coach.
  • The Cubs made former big league pitcher John Koronka a regional scout in charge of Florida. Koronka , 31, last pitched for the Marlins in 2009.

Quick Hits: Pena, Zumaya, Soler, Peterson

Some news items to wrap up the evening as we inch closer to the Winter Meetings….

  • Carlos Pena would be a fit with the Blue Jays, Brewers, Cubs, Mariners, Nationals, Rangers, Red Sox and Yankees, opines SBNation's Rob Neyer.  The Yankees tried to claim Pena on waivers last August but the Cubs pulled him back.
  • Joel Zumaya said the Red Sox expressed an interest in him as soon as he hit free agency, reports MLB.com's Jason Beck.  Boston will be one of the 10 or more teams present when Zumaya throws a mound session in two weeks.  The right-hander underwent elbow surgery in March and didn't pitch last season.
  • Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus (via Twitter) lists, in order, the Yankees, Rangers and Phillies as the top candidates to sign Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler.
  • The Orioles interviewed Rick Peterson for their open minor league pitching coordinator's position, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  Peterson (former pitching coach of the Brewers, Mets and Athletics) is also a candidate to be Bobby Valentine's new pitching coach with the Red Sox.
  • Also from Rosenthal, the Royals "backed off" pursuing free agent starters due to their large number of minor league pitching prospects and also because the club wants to remain flexible since they know not every young arm will properly develop.  The Royals re-signed Bruce Chen and their other major starting acquistion this winter (Jonathan Sanchez) came via a trade.
  • The Cardinals could make an acquisition or look internally to fill their middle infield needs, writes MLB.com's Matthew Leach, but the team won't know how much they have to spend until Albert Pujols makes his decision.

Central Notes: Pena, Twins, Quade, Rodriguez

Some items out of the AL and NL Central to round out the evening..

  • Cubs first baseman Carlos Pena is unlikely to accept the club's arbitration offer, tweets Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated.   Heyman writes that the Type B free agent should be able to land a multi-year deal after hitting .225/.357/.462 with 28 homers in 2011.
  • Twins insiders believe that the new collective bargaining agreement will make it easier for them to sign the No. 2 pick in next June’s draft, writes Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune.  The slot bonus for that pick has been set at $6.2MM.
  • More from Christensen as he writes that before hiring Gene Glynn as their Triple-A skipper, the Twins spoke to recently dismissed Cubs manager Mike Quade, who was a top minor-league manager before landing the Cubs' job.  Quade wasn’t interested, as he’ll still be drawing a paycheck from the Cubs for 2012.
  • Wandy Rodriguez represents an appealing option for several teams looking to improve their starting pitching, writes Stephen Goff of Examiner.  Earlier today, Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe wrote that the Astros are getting more and more inquiries about the availability of the 32-year-old and the Red Sox are among the interested clubs.
  • MLB.com's Mark Sheldon (video link) doesn't see the Reds moving Yonder Alonso for anything less than a top-end starter.  Sheldon goes on to say that he thinks the Reds should hang on to the 24-year-old slugger.

National League Free Agent Arbitration Offers

10 National League teams have free agent arbitration offer decisions to make today, and we'll update them in this post in advance of the 11pm central time deadline.  For a fantastic customizable chart with all 57 Type A/B free agents and their teams' decisions in real-time, click here.  

Updated team decisions:

Teams with automatic decisions only:


Cubs Notes: Epstein, Byrnes, Pena

The Cubs and Red Sox are now discussing compensation for GM Theo Epstein. Here are the latest Cubs-related notes as we await an official announcement about the leadership change…

  • There’s a “good chance” that Epstein hires Padres executive Josh Byrnes to work with him in Chicago, according to Tom Krasovic of Inside the Padres (on Twitter). Byrnes, the D’Backs’ former GM, worked with Epstein in Boston.
  • Carlos Pena told the Chicago Sun-Times that he's excited to see what the Cubs can do under Epstein. Pena, a free agent after the season, hinted that Epstein's presence makes Chicago an even more desirable place to play.
  • Bradley Woodrum of CubsStats.com loves the Epstein hire for the Cubs, but wouldn't trade prospect Brett Jackson for the rights to the new GM.
  • Check out Tim Dierkes' preview of the Cubs' offseason.

Quick Hits: Nunez, Scouts, Pujols, Indians

Links for Sunday evening as the Red Sox beat the Yankees 7-4 in 14 innings.  The Rays now sit one game back in the wild-card hunt with a three game set against the Bombers to go..

  • Marlins reliever Edward Mujica hopes that the club gives the closer formerly known as Leo Nunez another chance, writes Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel.  Nunez, or Juan Carlos Oviedo, is arbitration eligible and it’s unclear whether the club is required to tender him a 2012 contract before the December 12 deadline.
  • There's going to be some big name players on the open market this winter but there are also going to be some important scouts available for hire, Bob Nightengale of USA Today notes (on Twitter).  Among those available are Gary Hughes (Cubs), Larry Corrigan (Pirates), Bryan Lambe (Mets), Keith Champion (Pirates), and Wayne Krivsky (Mets).
  • No one knows for sure if Albert Pujols will wind up with a new club this offseason, but Cubs slugger Carlos Pena believes that he'll stay with the Cardinals, writes Carrie Muskat of MLB.com.
  • This season, the Indians drew 1.84MM in 81 home games, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter).  That figure marks an increase of 450K from last season.