Carlos Pena Rumors
The Yankees have contacted DH/first baseman Carlos Pena, the free agent told Rich Herrera and Mel Antonen during an appearance on MLB Network Radio's Home Plate program (Twitter link). Pena also said he's keeping his options open at this point.
We heard earlier today that the Bombers have also been in touch with free agent Johnny Damon, so they're clearly kicking the tires on reasonably priced DH/1B types after trading Jesus Montero to the Mariners on Friday.
After reestablishing himself as an MLB starter with the Rays from 2007-10, Pena hit free agency last offseason and signed a one-year deal with the Cubs. The left-handed hitter, a Boras Corporation client, slugged 28 homers and posted a .225/.357/.462 line. He'll turn 34 in May.
The Yankees' current projected payroll is at about $212MM, according to Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger, who heard earlier in the offseason that New York doesn't want to go above that figure (Twitter links). So, it sounds like the Yanks will either have to stray from their plan, or sign a Damon or Pena type at a fairly steep discount.
Now that the Yankees have addressed their pitching issues with two major transactions, the club is looking to add some offense, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Carlos Pena is "now on their radar," and Heyman says the Bronx Bombers could be looking at other hitters as well.
Pena, a Scott Boras client, hit .225/.357/.462 with 28 homers for the Cubs last season. He has been linked the Rays and Indians this winter, though overall it's been a fairly quiet offseason for the free agent slugger due to the presence of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder in the free agent first base market. If he signed with New York, Pena would become the team's primary designated hitter, with Alex Rodriguez or Andruw Jones getting the occasional start at DH when the Yankees faced a left-hander. The Yankees put in a waiver claim on Pena in August but the Cubs pulled him back.
The Indians like Carlos Pena and asked ownership if they could make a deal for the 33-year-old Scott Boras client work, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets. Pena would provide the Indians with a power bat at first base and make the team's lineup even more left-handed than it already is.
Matt LaPorta and Carlos Santana figure to get most of the playing time at first base unless the Indians add a first baseman such as Pena or Casey Kotchman. Pena, a well-regarded defender, posted a .225/.357/.462 line with 28 home runs in 606 plate appearances for the Cubs in 2011.
Approximately 8% of 15,600 MLBTR poll respondents said they expect Pena to sign with the Indians. Many fans and analysts expected the Indians to pursue right-handed bats because their roster already includes left-handed hitters such as Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley, Shin-Soo Choo, Grady Sizemore, Travis Hafner, Jack Hannahan and Lonnie Chisenhall.
More than 100 free agents remain unsigned, as MLBTR's Free Agent Tracker shows. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com offers updates on a handful of them; here are the details:
- Heyman could see the Phillies checking in on Francisco Cordero, but suggests Brad Lidge and Kerry Wood are more likely targets for Philadelphia.
- Casey Kotchman and Carlos Pena seem to be the most likely offensive options for the Indians and both are also in play for the Rays, Heyman tweets.
- Six or more teams are looking for infield depth, so Heyman examines the market for free agent infielders such as Eric Chavez, Aaron Miles and Jack Wilson.
- The Reds are looking for an infielder and an outfielder, Heyman tweets. He suggests Ryan Ludwick, who played under GM Walt Jocketty in St. Louis, would be a “perfect fit” in Cincinnati, where the Reds would like to add depth in left field. The Reds have some interest in Ludwick, Rick Ankiel and Cody Ross.
- The Red Sox remain interested in Joe Saunders, Hiroki Kuroda and Roy Oswalt, Heyman tweets.
The Orioles officially signed Wei-Yin Chen today and we caught up on the left-hander's new team earlier this evening. Here’s the latest on the rest of the AL East...
- Alex Speier of WEEI.com hears from multiple sources that the Red Sox are not near a deal with Hiroki Kuroda.
- The Red Sox continue searching for low-cost pitching help, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes.
- The Rays have started extension talks with manager Joe Maddon and plan to resume discussions soon, Jon Heyman of CBSSports tweets.
- Agent Scott Boras told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times that free agents Carlos Pena and Johnny Damon could return to Tampa Bay. However, both players are drawing interest from other clubs.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos hasn’t ruled out adding a reliever, Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com writes. However, the GM says he doesn’t want to force a deal. “There's a lot of things we could have done this past offseason to say that we did it, but I just don't ultimately believe they would have been good signings or good trades for us,” he said. “I think they would have been bad.”
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.
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.
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 Ankiel, tweets 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.
37 free agents were offered arbitration in November, but Jonathan Papelbon, Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, Rod Barajas, Clint Barmes, Matt Capps, Bruce 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.
- Based on Heyman's tweet indicating only three players accepted arbitration, we can deduce that Prince Fielder (A), Albert Pujols (A), Jimmy Rollins (A), C.J. Wilson (A), Francisco Cordero (B), Octavio Dotel (B), Raul Ibanez (B), Edwin Jackson (B), and Darren Oliver (B) declined their respective teams' offers.
- Derrek Lee (B) has turned down the Pirates' offer, tweets MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch.
- Kelly Johnson (A) has accepted the Blue Jays' offer, tweets Jon Heyman.
- Michael Cuddyer (A) and Jason Kubel (B) have declined the Twins' offers, tweets Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com.
- Francisco Rodriguez (A) has accepted the Brewers' offer, tweets MLB.com's Adam McCalvy.
- Ryan Madson (A) will decline the Phillies' offer, tweets Jon Heyman.
- David Ortiz (A) will accept Boston's offer, tweets Jon Heyman of MLB Network. Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston confirms that Ortiz has officially accepted (Twitter link).
- Aramis Ramirez (B) officially declined the Cubs' offer, tweets Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune.
- Josh Willingham (A) will decline Oakland's offer, MLBTR has learned. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that Willingham has officially declined.
- Dan Wheeler (B) will decline Boston's offer of arbitration, tweets Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. Cherington confirmed the decision to reporters, including Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald (Twitter link).
- Carlos Pena (B) has decided not to accept the Cubs' arbitration offer, tweets SI's Jon Heyman. Cubs president Theo Epstein recently told reporters he did not expect Pena to accept, as he's likely to find a multiyear deal on the open market.
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.