The Rays will sign first baseman Carlos Pena to a contract in order to allow him to retire as a member of the organization, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports on Twitter. The 37-year-old Dominican native has not played with any organization this year.
Though he ultimately made many stops along the way in his 14 big league seasons, Pena enjoyed his longest and most successful stint in Tampa Bay. After originally signing there as a minor league free agent, Pena put up a monster 2007 season in which he swatted 46 home runs and carried a 1.037 OPS. He inked a three-year, $24.25MM extension thereafter.
Though he never quite reached that peak again, Pena put up a .230/.360/.483 slash over his five years with the Rays, the last of which came after a one-year stop with the Cubs. He was also a significant contributor to the club’s 2008 and 2010 playoff teams, compiling a .269/.388/.522 batting line with four home runs in his 80 post-season plate appearances.
Before heading to Tampa Bay, Pena spent an extended stretch with the Tigers. Though he was an above-average hitter, he didn’t consistently produce there as he did later. Pena also made a stop in Chicago, as noted above, and had short tenures with the Rangers, Royals, Red Sox, Astros, and Athletics. He had an unsuccessful late-season run last year in Texas, and it appears as if that will represent his final work at the MLB level.
While Pena was born in the Dominican Republic, he played high school and college ball in the United States, making him draft-eligible. He was taken with the tenth pick of the 1998 draft by the Rangers and soon became one of the game’s highest-rated prospects. But Pena was dealt twice in 2002, not long after reaching the majors, first heading to Oakland and then on to Detroit (as portrayed in the Moneyball book and film).
It took some time until Pena made good on his full promise, but he certainly did that for the Rays. MLBTR offers its congratulations on an outstanding career, and wishes him the best as he moves on to other pursuits.