Carlos Pena Rumors
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some links as Saturday turns into Sunday...
- The Indians offered Carlos Pena a one-year deal worth $8MM, reports Paul Hoynes of The Cleveland Plain-Dealer. Pena took less money (one-year, $7.25MM) to return to the Rays, however.
- One of the two sides will have to get creative for Roy Oswalt to land with the Cardinals, says Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. He says the team's motives are unclear as well, noting that St. Louis recently checked in on Edwin Jackson.
- Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler says that he doesn't have anything new to report on a possible long-term extension, writes Richard Durrett of ESPN.com. Kinsler added that there haven't been many discussions with the club in regards to a new deal, but we know that there has been some conversation.
- More from Durrett, as he writes that Rangers pitcher Matt Harrison isn't concerned about hearing Roy Oswalt's name being connected to the club. Harrison would likely be bumped out of the rotation if Texas signs the veteran, but Harrison says that he's okay with moving to the bullpen.
The Rays have signed Carlos Pena to a one-year deal that will bring the powerful first baseman back to Tampa Bay, the team announced. The Scott Boras client will earn $7.25MM in 2012.
“Carlos is one of the most accomplished players in team history and he is a great fit for our club in 2012 both on and off the field,” Rays executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. “He adds to our offense with his power while maintaining the high defensive standard we seek.”
Pena, 33, posted a .225/.357/.462 line with 28 home runs in 606 plate appearances for the Cubs in 2011. He earned $10MM last, when the Rays spent $42MM on their entire Major League payroll. Pena averaged 36 home runs and a .238/.368/.516 line in his four seasons in Tampa Bay from 2007-10. Just 9.36% of 15,700 people who participated in MLBTR's December poll expected Pena to return to Tampa Bay.
The Rays have added substantial power to the lineup in Pena and Luke Scott. Casey Kotchman, who played first base for the Rays in 2011, will presumably sign elsewhere -- possibly in Cleveland -- now that the Rays no longer have an opening at first base. Potential suitors for Pena such as the Yankees, Tigers and Indians will have to turn elsewhere for power bats.
The Cubs offered Pena arbitration after the season, so they'll earn a compensatory draft pick for losing the Type B free agent. However, the Rays don't have to surrender a pick to add Pena. Pena ranked 16th on MLBTR's list of top free agents entering the offseason.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first reported the agreement, after Yahoo's Tim Brown reported that the Rays were "in pretty deep" with Pena. Photo courtesy Icon SMI.
On Tuesday the Tigers learned that they'll be without Victor Martinez for the 2012 season and the club won't be able to truly replace everything that he brings to the lineup, writes Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. Only four other players matched or bested the 33-year-old's .330/.380/.470 slash line last season: Adrian Gonzalez, Ryan Braun, Michael Young and Miguel Cabrera. Stark takes a look at Detroit's options and much more in tonight's column:
- Before Carlos Pena re-upped with the Rays, it appeared he was at the top of the Tigers' list. Now, Stark says that the club could deal for Bobby Abreu, sign Yoenis Cespedes, or bring Johnny Damon back for another go-round in Detroit. Outside of those players, the club could look into left-handed-hitting free agents such as Hideki Matsui, Raul Ibanez, J.D. Drew, and Kosuke Fukudome. Right-handed options include Vladimir Guerrero, Magglio Ordonez, Cody Ross, and Derrek Lee.
- One club official estimated that he had about a dozen conversations with the Mariners this winter and Michael Pineda's name never came up. That's probably because M's GM Jack Zduriencik wanted young, controllable, impact bats like Jesus Montero, Mike Stanton, and Logan Morrison and only dangled the pitcher to those teams. Eventually, it was the Yanks who made the deal.
- There are also two "conspiracy theories" floating around regarding the deal. One school of thought has people wondering if Pineda's fading velocity down the stretch trigged the M's to trade him. There are also clubs wondering if the Yankees had concerns about Montero's mental make-up.
- There has never been a team in history with three $20MM-a-year pitchers, but the Phillies will have to be the first if they want to hang on to Cole Hamels. The club has been hoping that Hamels would take a Jered Weaver-type deal, but agent John Boggs wants more. Stark believes that this is due in part to his view of C.C. Sabathia and Ryan Howard. Sabathia was the last dominant left-hander to hit the market at age 28 and Howard comes up in conversation because the Phillies gave him top-of-the-market dollars two years before free agency.
- One team executive said that "Next year this time, the Dodgers will be THE team calling up every marquee free agent. They're going to have serious money. They'll be the Yankees West."
- Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd has amassed so much controllable starting-pitching depth, he might turn around and trade an arm or two to replenish his position-player prospect pool. Earlier today, O'Dowd shipped Kevin Slowey to the Indians for right-handed reliever Zach Putnam.
- The Angels are downplaying the possibility that they'll add a closer to supplant Jordan Walden. They've been looking for another left-handed reliever, they've checked in on Brad Lidge, and now they're basically "looking to deepen their supporting cast," according to one exec.
- Agents who have spoken with the Yankees say that, despite rumors they could sign a DH-type like Damon, Matsui or Ibanez, the team isn't too hungry for a bat. One source says that, in truth, the Yankees have told agents that a veteran DH is actually "a very low priority."