Carlos Pena Rumors
ESPN's Jayson Stark posted a new column yesterday; let's take a look.
- Stark speculates on four players the Cubs could attempt to trade Carlos Zambrano for: Carlos Lee, A.J. Burnett, Barry Zito, and Derek Lowe. I posted 11 Zambrano trade scenarios yesterday; check it out. A few baseball insiders Stark spoke to did think that with the right veteran team or manager Zambrano could be useful.
- Cubs players Kerry Wood and Reed Johnson were claimed on waivers and pulled back, reports Stark. Carlos Pena has yet to be placed on waivers, but the Cubs may not be motivated to move him.
- One baseball man who is close to Bud Selig told Stark the commissioner has "basically promised a lot of people he'll get them slotting by next year."
- The Red Sox are poking around for a right-handed bench bat, while the Yankees and Phillies seek veteran left-handed relievers.
Dan Uggla's incredible 33-game hitting streak came to an end today. The Braves' slugger batted an insane .377/.438/.762 over that stretch with 15 homers, good for an even 1.200 OPS. Remarkably though, he still falls 23 games short of Joe DiMaggio's immortal record. Here are your Sunday links:
- After fracturing a fibula today, new Diamondbacks acquisition Jason Marquis will miss four to six weeks. SI's Jon Heyman tweets that it sounds like the team's inclination is to replace Marquis internally. The Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro doesn't think the team will go with top draft pick Trevor Bauer for the rotation spot, but notes that it's not crazy to suggest it. The 20-year-old Bauer tossed five scoreless innings today in his Double-A debut.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos told MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm, "We’re always open minded for Aaron [Hill] still being a long-term part of this team." Anthopoulos notes that Hill has flashed his talent at times this year. It's tough to picture the Jays picking up Hill's $8MM club option, but maybe they can work something out.
- Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post tweets that he would be surprised if the Rockies don't re-sign second baseman Mark Ellis. The 34-year-old had a .267/.304/.382 line in 139 plate appearances heading into tonight's action.
- If Bob Melvin is managing the Athletics again in 2012, he wants them to bring Hideki Matsui back, writes John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. Matsui had just a .617 OPS in the season's first half, but has risen from the ashes to post a .410/.470/.630 slash line in 26 games since the All-Star Break.
- Similarly, the Cubs and Carlos Pena both seem to be open to working out a new deal, writes Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com. On a related note, ESPN's Buster Olney hears that "in some important corners of the Cubs' front office, there is concern about investing huge money in one player this winter." In other words, the Cubs' brass might be wary of signing Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder to play first base.
- Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review wonders if the Pirates can follow the path to prominence that their division rivals, the Brewers, followed to escape a similar tradition of losing.
- Olney tweets that in three days, Drew Pomeranz can officially become the player to be named later from last month's Ubaldo Jimenez trade with the Indians. Pomeranz is expected to report to the Rockies' Double-A affiliate in Tulsa.
Tim Dierkes contributed to this post.
The non-waiver trade deadline came and went yesterday with nary a Carlos Pena rumor. At first glance you'd think an impending free agent with 20 home runs would be on the move, but Pena remained with the 43-65 Cubs. Why?
For one thing, Pena is moveable in August. Cubs GM Jim Hendry explained to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, "The guys that we kept, for the most part, are guys that still have a chance to be involved next year, and if we do make a trade or two in August, that’s still no more or less significant than if we made them [Sunday]." There's a decent chance Pena would clear waivers, especially since $5MM of his $10MM contract is due in January. If not, the Cubs could just hand over the contract.
Another reason Pena stayed is that Hendry doesn't have anyone to replace him. The GM explained that the Cubs had Tyler Colvin to step in for Kosuke Fukudome, but have no such replacement for Pena. Bryan LaHair has 29 home runs at Triple-A Iowa, but he's 28 and this is his sixth stint at the level. Personally this explanation doesn't do much for me, as the Cubs are going to remain terrible this year whether Pena or LaHair starts at first over the final two months.
I imagine Hendry was also limited by the scant number of contenders in need of first base or DH help. Pena is best marketed as a first baseman, and with the Pirates adding Derrek Lee it's tough to find a contender in need of help at the position.
Wittenmyer mentions draft pick compensation, but Pena is actually below Type B status at present. Plus, the Cubs have often been reluctant to offer arbitration to free agents.
One last possibility is that Pena was not traded because the Cubs want to re-sign him and that's generally easier when you retain a player. Pena, a Scott Boras client, said he'd love to stay in Chicago and is excited about the team's future, but hasn't really looked ahead to next year. The Cubs will have options, with a large amount of payroll flexibility and Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols potentially on the market.
The Cubs are informing other teams that they will not trade Carlos Pena before tomorrow's deadline, reports ESPN's Buster Olney (on Twitter). At least one team - the Pirates - inquired about his availability. The 33-year-old Pena is hitting .224/.338/.445 with 20 homers this year, and will become a free agent after the season.
It's been awfully quiet on the Pirates rumor front lately, but maybe that's just because the team's front office is keeping a lid on it. The latest:
- Talks between the Pirates and A's about Josh Willingham are finished, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (on Twitter). The talks never intensified.
- The Pirates and A's are talking, tweets Jon Paul Morosi, as Oakland can fill the Pirates' need for a bat and a reliever.
- The Pirates inquired on Carlos Pena but sensed the Cubs weren't motivated to trade him, tweets SI's Jon Heyman. The Bucs are not sure that Pena's predecessor, Derrek Lee of the Orioles, is an upgrade for them. I think he would be.
- The Pirates had interest in lefty Charlie Furbush before the Tigers sent him to Seattle today, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post.
Another must-read column from ESPN's Jayson Stark...
- Stark has updated his take on Carlos Quentin's availability. He says there is "increasing evidence the White Sox are talking to several teams about Quentin, one of which is believed to be Atlanta." An executive of a team that has talked to the Sox says that while they are not "bound and determined" to trade Quentin, they would do it.
- The Pirates are focused on finding a professional hitter, but aren't hot on Carlos Pena or Josh Willingham. They're eyeing the Twins' Jason Kubel, but GM Bill Smith considers his team a contender at six games out.
- Stark hasn't heard much that suggests the Braves are still bullpen shopping.
- The Indians are turning their attention to starting pitching, but players Drew Pomeranz, Alex White, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Jason Kipnis appear to be untouchable.
- The Astros continue to shop Wandy Rodriguez, and Stark wonders if he'll fit for the Yankees as a salary dump type.
- The White Sox dangled Adam Dunn. Dunn has over $48MM remaining on the four-year, $56MM deal he signed in December.
- The Reds have "stepped up their calls this week on controllable middle-of-the-order bats," although it's hard to name any available hitters of that nature.
The latest from ESPN's Jayson Stark...
- The Rays listened on James Shields last week, but now they've taken him off the market for July and apparently the upcoming offseason.
- An executive who spoke with the Cubs says the level of interest in first baseman Carlos Pena has been exaggerated. That's pretty damning, since publicly the level of interest has always appeared tepid. Also, Stark says the Cubs believe Pena could get through waivers in August. I disagree with the notion that there will be a lot less money left on Pena's contract at that point, since half of the $10MM is to be paid in January.
- Kosuke Fukudome might be the one Cub dealt at the July deadline. We still haven't heard which teams are on his partial no-trade list, however.
- The Rangers are balking at including lefty Martin Perez in a deal. Perez is a consensus top-13 prospect in all of MLB. However, the Rangers will discuss their next tier of prospects - Tanner Scheppers, Robbie Erlin, Roman Mendez and Barret Loux, in Stark's mind.
- A longtime friend of Drayton McLane believes McLane's last act as Astros owner will be to convince GM Ed Wade to retain favorite Hunter Pence.
There is the possibility that the Cubs want to re-sign Pena for 2012, but otherwise trading him now would be wise. Typically trading a player at the deadline clears a third of his salary, but as I mentioned earlier this month, the Cubs could clear two-thirds of Pena's due to the structure of his contract. I've noted that the Pirates and Diamondbacks might be the only contenders in need of a first baseman, so even though the market for bats overall is weak, those teams have leverage. The 33-year-old Pena is hitting .221/.334/.445 with 20 home runs in 378 plate appearances this year for the Cubs.
The NL Central race remains tight, but the Pirates are technically above the Cardinals and Brewers at the moment. The latest on these surprise contenders...
- We haven't read much beyond speculation linking the Pirates to Cubs first baseman Carlos Pena, but Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review lists Pena, Carlos Beltran, and Hunter Pence as three bats on which GM Neal Huntington has been "stymied" so far. Huntington explained the roadblocks he's encountered so far, including no-trade clauses and finding a match in value with the other team. The GM explained that he intends to "stay disciplined and stay with teams" in hopes of the asking prices going down.
- ESPN's Buster Olney guesses the Pirates will end up acquiring a second-tier reliever and bat, he explained to Joe Giardina of Pittsburgh Sports Report. Olney has doubts that Beltran would accept a trade to Pittsburgh, and would be shocked if the Bucs meet Houston's asking price for Pence.
- In a tweet, Olney speculates that Colorado's Jason Giambi "would be perfect as a bench addition" for the Pirates.
- Alex Presley's thumb injury increases the Pirates' need for an outfielder, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
A collection of links for all the Cubs fans out there...
- Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena may have played their way into the Cubs' plans for next season, reports CSNChicago.com's Patrick Mooney. The Cubs hold a $16MM club option on Ramirez for next season and while Ramirez has the right to void that option, his refusal to waive his no-trade clause would seem to indicate he wants to remain in Chicago.
- As for Pena, while the Cubs have been rumored as suitors for Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder this winter, Mooney says "next year’s payroll – as well as ownership’s appetite for a megadeal – is still to be determined." Pena could be brought back on a less-expensive contract to play first base.
- The Cubs continue receiving calls on Sean Marshall, but are telling all inquirers that the lefty setup man is going nowhere, tweets SI's Jon Heyman. The 28-year-old has a 3.11 ERA and a 49/10 K/BB ratio through 46 1/3 innings this year.
- ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that while outfielder Reed Johnson is cheap, a trade partner likely wouldn't make the Cubs a very strong offer to acquire his services.
- Former Phillies general manager Pat Gillick denied a Chicago radio report that he'd spoken with Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts about joining their front office, writes MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. Gillick says he's never even met Ricketts, and offered praise for Cubs GM Jim Hendry. Gillick is currently a senior advisor in the Phillies front office.
MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post