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Wily Mo Pena Rumors
Free agent slugger Wily Mo Pena has agreed to a one-year deal with Japan’s Rakuten Eagles, MLBTR has learned. The contract includes a club option for 2016.
Pena’s strong 2014 campaign — he hit .255/.344/.486 with 32 home runs for the Orix Buffaloes — raised the possibility of a return to the big leagues, but that never materialized. The 33-year-old was only interested in signing with an MLB team if he could achieve a major league contract. While there was some interest, and plenty of minor league offers, Pena was ultimately never offered a 40-man spot going into camp.
A veteran of eight big league seasons, Pena swatted 84 long balls and slashed .250/.303/.445 in his 1,845 career plate appearances. Best known for his time with the Reds, Pena also saw action with four other teams. Ultimately, despite carrying above-average offensive numbers for much of his career, Pena’s defensive limitations and relatively low on-base figures held him back in the majors.
But he hit his stride upon moving to Nippon Professional Baseball in 2012 with the Fukuoka Softbank Haws. The Dominican native slashed a productive .280/.339/.490 in his first Japanese campaign, establishing his presence as one of the league’s premier power threats. After putting aside his injury-marred 2013 with his performance last year, Pena entered this year’s market as one of the more appealing Japan-based international free agents.
Pena recently became a client of Matt Sosnick of Sosnick, Cobbe & Karon. He will now join with fellow former big leaguer Gaby Sanchez to form what the Eagles will hope is a potent middle-of-the-order, first base/DH pairing.
Wily Mo Pena, previously with the Orix Buffaloes in Japan, has become a free agent, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press tweets. Berardino further notes that there is mutual interest between Pena and the Twins.
MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reported in September that Pena would look for a deal with a US team, noting at the time that three clubs were interested. The huge 1B/OF hit 32 homers in Japan last season, batting .255/.344/.486 for Orix after playing two seasons for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. The 32-year-old Pena, who last appeared in the big leagues in 2011, struggled in parts of eight seasons in the states despite his prodigious power. After a strong season in Japan, though, big-league teams could view him as a potential option to improve their lineups, perhaps particularly at DH and against lefties.
Slugger Wily Mo Pena is hoping to land an MLB contract for the 2015 season, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reports on Twitter. Soon to turn 33, Pena — who last saw MLB action in 2011 — has received interest from at least three clubs to date.
Since leaving North American baseball behind before the 2012 season, Pena has become one of the better power hitters in Japan. After a strong performance in his first season, he struggled in limited action last year. But Pena has rebounded to post a .260/.360/.514 slash with 28 home runs over 472 plate appearances in 2014. More impressively, perhaps, he has brought his strikeout-to-walk ratio (98 K against 56 BB) down to career-best levels.
Pena was said to have had options for playing in the states over the offseason, but chose instead to join Nippon Professional Baseball’s Orix Buffaloes. (His first two years in Japan were spent with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks.) Despite his impressive power, Pena never firmly established himself as an everyday player at the MLB level. He has seen action in eight campaigns, swatting 84 long balls and slashing .250/.303/.445 across 1,845 turns at the plate.
Today's minor moves..
- Former MLB slugger Wily Mo Pena has signed in Japan with the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. The 31-year-old drew interest from Japan and in the states before agreeing to the $1.5MM pact. Pena spent parts of eight seasons playing for the Reds, Nationals, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, and Seattle Mariners before signing a two-year, $5MM contract with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks following the 2011 season.
- The Reds Triple-A affiliate announced that they have re-signed catcher Corky Miller. Miller saw 17 games of action for Cincinnati last season but spent the bulk of the year in Louisville where he slashed .200/.295/.333 in 157 PAs.
Even with the high cost of free agent pitching, Ervin Santana's hopes for a $100MM contract seemed a little far-fetched…or are they? Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports looked at the binder of information that agents Bean Stringfellow and Joe White prepared about their client and saw a wealth of favorable statistics in Santana's favor, noting his durability, good health, and even comparisons to Zack Greinke. MLBTR's Steve Adams only predicted a five-year, $75MM deal for Santana on the open market but it only takes one team to make a leap.
Here's some news from around baseball…
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said that the team has "real interest at different levels" in re-signing its six free agents, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports. Cherington has "had conversations" about bringing back Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew, Mike Napoli, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Joel Hanrahan and John McDonald, though Abraham reports that the team has most extensively discussed a new deal with Napoli.
- The Red Sox aren't expected to make acquisitions during the GM meetings this week, Cherington said.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman has "no idea" if Hiroki Kuroda is interested in returning to the club, Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger reports. “My conversations with his agent, the only information I’ve gotten from that is he hasn’t made any decisions, what he wants to do as far as next year’s concerned," Cashman said. Kuroda has been rumored to be weighing re-signing with the Yankees, pitching in Japan or retiring, though a return to southern California to be closer to his family probably isn't out of the question either.
- Robinson Cano's next contract might not meet his expectations simply because the Yankees are the only team with the need and finances to come close to his demands, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News writes.
- Jason Bay isn't sure if he will play in 2014, Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi tweets. The 35-year-old Bay was released by the Mariners in August and only has a .688 OPS in 1361 PA over his last four seasons, most of which were shortened by injury.
- Agent Barry Praver said that his clients Manny Ramirez and Carlos Zambrano were hoping to again play in the Major Leagues, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (Twitter links). Ramirez is staying in shape and would be open to playing in Japan, while Zambrano is pitching in the Venezuelan winter league.
- Wily Mo Pena is expected to re-sign in Japan, Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith reports (Twitter link). Pena signed a two-year, $5MM deal with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks following the 2011 season and enjoyed a big 2012 before suffering through an injury-plagued 2013 campaign. Nicholson-Smith notes that Pena had interested suitors in both Japan and North America. Pena turns 32 in January and hit .250/.303/.445 with 84 homers in 1845 career PA with the Reds, Red Sox, Nationals, Diamondbacks and Mariners from 2002-11.
Some late night links from around the league…
- According to a report passed along by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker (on Twitter), at least one MLB team has bid on Hiroyuki Nakajima since the posting process started on Monday. The Seibu Lions are expected to accept the highest bid, regardless of amount.
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels has spoken to C.J. Wilson's agent as recently as today reports Jeff Wilson of The Fort Worth Star Telegram (on Twitter), and MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan says the two sides are expected to meet again at the winter meetings.
- Before signing with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks for $5MM over two years, Wily Mo Pena had drawn interest from the Indians, Giants, Brewers, and Mariners according to SI.com's Jon Heyman (on Twitter).
- Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times wonders if the Darren Ford signing clears the way for the Mariners to trade some of the outfielders on their 40-man roster, like Trayvon Robinson, Michael Saunders, or Franklin Gutierrez.
- “We’re very open,” said Athletics assistant GM David Forst to John Shea of The San Francisco Chronicle when asked if any of the club's pitchers were untradeable. “If we didn’t have the (pitching) depth, we wouldn’t have this option.” Gio Gonzalez and Andrew Bailey have been popular names, but Forst's statement suggests Trevor Cahill and Brandon McCarthy could be had as well.
MONDAY: The two-year deal could be worth more than $5MM with incentives, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter).
SUNDAY: Pena's deal is expected to be for two years with a seven-figure annual salary, an industry source tells Alex Speier of WEEI.com. The contract will allow Pena to hit the open market after his age 31 season.
SATURDAY: Slugger Wily Mo Pena is nearing a multi-year, multi-million dollar deal with Japan's Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, MLBTR has learned. Pena played in 17 games for the Diamondbacks and 22 games for the Mariners in 2011.
Pena, 29, drew the attention of several clubs after he was cut by the Diamondbacks in July. Across eight major league seasons, Pena owns a .250/.303/.445 slash line with 84 homers.
The Mariners have signed Wily Mo Pena to a minor league deal, the team announced in a press release. WEEI.com's Alex Speier reports (on Twitter) that the deal includes a September opt-out if he is not called to the majors. He will join their Triple-A affiliate in a few days.
Pena, 29, had been released by the Diamondbacks earlier this week. He hit five rather majestic homeruns in 46 plate appearances for Arizona, but he also struck out 19 times and walked not once. Pena hit .363/.439/.726 with 21 homers in 271 plate appearances for their Triple-A squad before being called up for interleague play.
On this date last year, the Angels acquired Dan Haren from Arizona for Patrick Corbin, Tyler Skaggs, Rafael Rodriguez and Joe Saunders. The Angels finished with a losing record in 2010, but they're in contention now and Haren has been excellent, posting a 3.01 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 in 239 innings for the Halos. Meawhile, Skaggs has developed into one of the top prospects in the game and Corbin is highly-regarded as well. Here's the latest from the AL West…
- Mariners starters Felix Hernandez and Doug Fister told Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com that they don't want to be traded.
- Rangers manager Ron Washington confirmed to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com that he'd like to see the Rangers fortify their bullpen before the trade deadline.
- The Mariners appear to believe Fister is better than Jason Vargas, so they may not want to deal Fister, according to Knobler (on Twitter).
- Rangers assistant GM Thad Levine told Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio that Texas continues discussing a contract extension for left-hander C.J. Wilson (Twitter links). Wilson, who hits free agency after the season, received a contract offer from the Rangers in March.
- Levine also confirmed that the Rangers are looking for bullpen help and a left fielder.
- The Mariners, A's, Brewers and Giants have looked at free agent slugger Wily Mo Pena, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). The Diamondbacks recently released Pena, who hit five homers in 46 plate appearances this year.
Pena's all-or-nothing approach at the plate resulted in no walks, 19 strikeouts, and five homers in his 46 plate appearances for the D'Backs this season. Pena, who is now free to sign with any club, drew interest from the Tigers, White Sox, Orioles, and Astros this past winter before he agreed to a minor league deal with Arizona.