Wily Mo Pena Rumors
The Atlantic League's Bridgeport Bluefish signed outfielder Wily Mo Pena on Saturday, according to the team. Pena, 28, had been released by the Mets about a year ago after posting a .276/.296/.414 line in 152 Triple A plate appearances. Pena's new team features plenty of familiar names, such as Brian Barton, Denny Stark, Jorge Julio, Antonio Alfonseca, Tike Redman, Adam Greenberg, and Esteban Yan.
Pena was once very highly regarded as a power hitter. He has three appearances on a Baseball America Top 100 Prospects list, once for the Yankees and twice for the Reds. He was still an interesting player upon being dealt to the Red Sox for Bronson Arroyo in '06 and to the Nationals the following year. Shoulder surgery and a $2MM salary led to Pena's release by the Nats in March of '09.
June isn't typically a big month for free agency, but few teams seem willing to make their players available, so we could see clubs turn to the free agent market to add depth for the stretch run. Here are updates on a few of the players who could help contending teams the most:
- Pedro Martinez - We heard all about Pedro last week and now we have a list of teams that won't sign him. The Angels, Dodgers and Yankees aren't interested, the Nats and Brewers didn't see him throw, the Rangers think he's too pricey and the Rays only have interest in him as a starter. Could the Cubs or Cardinals offer him a deal?
- Ben Sheets - He's not far enough along to be talking contract, but the Rangers have maintained contact with him. The Dodgers, Tigers, Angels and, ironically, the Brewers are among the teams that could use another starter.
- Paul Byrd - There's been little reported interest in Byrd, but he says he's ready to go and waiting for calls. Last year he averaged six innings for 30 starts and kept his walk rate under two per nine, so he could be a solid pickup.
- Wily Mo Pena - Not the difference maker teams dream about adding, but he has pop and is still just 27. We haven't heard anything since the Mets released him the other day.
- Javier Valentin - Valentin, who was released along with Pena, played respectably in a part time role as a catcher in Cincinnati for the past five seasons, posting a .755 OPS in over 400 games.
Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post reports that the Mets released Wily Mo Pena and Javier Valentin from Triple A Buffalo.
Pena, 27, has 77 major league home runs to his name, including 26 with the Reds in 2004. He was hitting .276/.296/.414 with 5 homers in Buffalo. Valentin's best years came in Cincinnati, where he played half of his ten major league seasons. This season the 33-year-old was hitting .260/.360/.416 in Triple A.
According to Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post, the Mets signed outfielder Wily Mo Pena to a minor league deal and assigned him to extended spring training. Mario Rojas of Candela Deportiva deserves credit for breaking this story two days ago.
Pena was productive for the Nationals in '07 after they acquired him from Boston for Chris Carter and cash in August. He signed a two-year, $7MM extension in December but lost his '08 season due to a strained oblique and shoulder surgery. Perhaps with good health Pena can rediscover the power that led to 26 home runs in 364 plate appearances for the '04 Reds.
According to MLB.com's Bill Ladson, the Nationals released Wily Mo Pena today. Pena refused his assignment to the minors after opposing teams chose not to claim him off waivers. Now that the Nationals are on the hook for his $2MM salary, he might be able to find a job somewhere.
Pena, 27, came to the Nationals in August of 2007 from Boston for Chris Carter. He had a nice initial stint with Washington, and signed a contract in December of that year. But 2008 was a lost year due to shoulder problems.
Chico Harlan of the Washington Post offers up a number of Nationals rumors.
- Wily Mo Pena was placed on waivers, meaning that any team can claim him and take on his $2MM salary. As Harlan points out, no team will claim him so Pena will have to choose between free agency and a minor league assignment. Apparently Pena declined to comment this morning, but shook hands with many in the Washington clubhouse before heading out (leaving a full locker behind).
- Collin Balester was optioned to AAA so Shairon Martis and Jordan Zimmermann are the team's 4th and 5th starters.
- Catcher Javier Valentin declined a minor league assignment and became a free agent.
- Yesterday, Harlan spoke with Austin Kearns and Josh Willingham about the possibility of reduced playing time and both players said they want to play out the spring first.
According to MLB.com's Bill Ladson, the Nationals declined their $5MM club option on outfielder Wily Mo Pena. However, Pena exercised his $2MM player option. 2008 was a lost year for Pena due to a rotator cuff injury. He'll be 27 in January; he has plenty of time to rediscover his power stroke. An Austin Kearns trade could clear up playing time for him.
A few notes from the MLBiverse...
- Anthony Reyes, who has been the object of much trade speculation, made his first start at AAA on Friday night. Reyes pitched 3+ scoreless innings with a strict pitch-count. The Cardinals appear to be reconverting Reyes into a starter in the hopes of increasing his value for potential trade partners.
- Jim Bowden hinted that he may implement a full-fledged youth movement in the near future, noting that a number of top prospects are close to being ready. Specifically, he mentioned two outfielders which would likely mean that Bowden will seek to move Austin Kearns and/or Wily Mo Pena. Kearns is due $8MM next year and there is a $10MM option for 2010 ($1M buyout). Pena may be easier to move with only a $5MM team option for 2009.
- Justice B. Hill suggests that the Indians are now paying the price for their inability to swing a deal this past offseason for another offensive weapon at one of the corner outfield spots or third base. The timing of the story was unfortunate as the Tribe laid a 12-spot on the Jays last night.
- The Red Sox do not have a need for a starting pitcher at this point, but they may soon have one too many arms for the rotation if Bartolo Colon continues to progress. Colon allowed one run in three innings, touching 97 on the radar gun. The obvious move would be to move somebody to the bullpen, but if somebody does go down with an injury, Colon's availability likely means that the Red Sox will not be in the market for an extra arm down the stretch.
UPDATE, 12-8-07 at 12:21pm: The Boston Herald's Rob Bradford says Wily Mo could've gotten more guaranteed money if he'd stuck with his previous agent, Josh Zeide.
FROM 12-6-07 at 11:20am:
The Nats made a couple of moves today.
- The rumored extension to Wily Mo Pena is done. He gets $2MM in '08, plus a mutual option for '09. The club can exercise it for $5MM, and if they decline Pena can take it for $2MM.
- Aaron Boone signed a one-year, $1MM deal with incentives. Boone, who turns 35 in March, hit a respectable .286/.388/.423 in part-time duty with the Marlins this year.
- The Nats re-signed Ryan Langerhans to a minor-league deal.
UPDATE, 12-5-07 at 11:02pm: According to Nats GM Jim Bowden, they've talked with Pena about an extension but no agreement has been reached.
FROM 12-5-07 at 8:35pm:
ESPN's Enrique Rojas reports that the Nationals have signed Wily Mo Pena to a two-year extension worth $7MM. He'll get $2MM in '08 and $5MM in '09. The deal buys out one year of free agency.
Is Wily Mo worth it? Hard to say, as his development has stalled a bit after spending a few years as Boston's extra outfielder.