The Mets have agreed to a minor league contract with right-hander Felix Pena, per the team’s transactions log. The former Cubs and Angels righty will presumably be in big league camp whenever it opens and will give New York some valuable depth in either the rotation or the bullpen. Pena was eligible to sign during the lockout because he was released by the Angels in September and did not return to a 40-man roster before season’s end.
Pena, who turns 32 today, was a quality swingman with the Halos from 2018-20, logging a combined 215 2/3 innings of 4.34 ERA ball with a 23.6% strikeout rate, a 7.7% walk rate and a 43.4% ground-ball rate. Those strikeout and grounder rates are both roughly in line with the league averages, while Pena’s walk rate checked in better than average. He’s not a flamethrowing power arm, but Pena sat 92.3 mph on his heater during that three-year stretch in Anaheim and has made 24 starts at the MLB level in addition to another 80 relief outings. He’s worked 142 innings in those 80 bullpen appearances, so he’s no stranger to multi-inning work.
A torn ACL ended Pena’s season in Aug. 2019, but he bounced back with a solid showing in the shortened 2020 schedule (4.05 ERA in 26 2/3 frames). His 2021 bordered on nightmarish, however. Pena missed the first six weeks of the season owing to a hamstring injury and was shelled for seven runs in 1 2/3 innings in his first two appearances upon returning. The Angels passed him through outright waivers not long after, and Pena went on to yield 61 earned runs through 68 1/3 innings in Triple-A Salt Lake before being released. He’s been lights out in the Dominican Winter League this offseason, though, posting a 1.91 ERA and a 27-to-7 K/BB ratio in 33 innings.
At present, the Mets’ rotation is expected to consist of Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker, with options like Trevor Williams, David Peterson and Tylor Megill vying for the fifth spot. It’s possible one or more of those current fifth-starter candidates could land in a deep group of relievers that’ll be headlined by Edwin Diaz, Trevor May, Seth Lugo and Miguel Castro.
The Mets are widely expected to add another established arm to the rotation whenever the lockout ends, and there’s probably room for a lefty in the bullpen as well (particularly following the departure of Aaron Loup). Pena can compete for a long relief spot in the bullpen or head to Triple-A Syracuse, where he’ll serve as a quality depth option. In a total of 260 2/3 innings, Pena carries a 4.66 ERA and 4.05 SIERA to go along with strikeout, walk and ground-ball tendencies that are all within arm’s reach of the league average.
Nice addition for the Syracuse bullpen.
I remember he was great to start 2020. Like 4 runs given up over his first 20 innings. Was likely even their best arm out of the pen for that short stretch, but then came back to earth and was pretty bad last year in Triple-A.
A minor league deal for a minor league franchise
A foolish comment from a fool.
Thanks for making my point
The Seattle Mariners have never even been to a World Series let alone win one, so the Mets do not look so bad in comparison.
Correct…but the Mets play in New York. They do not get to escape the spotlight.
Yes, the Mets don’t look as bad as the Mariners, but when compared to other MLB expansion franchises like the Blue Jays, Royals and Marlins who have just as many championships in far far far lest years of existence, it does look bad…especially since all three of them have won championships since the Mets last won one.
If Pena can regain his 2019 form he could be the swingman the Mets have been looking for.
Cheap depth. Keep it coming.
I’m old enough to remember when a 4.34 ERA was not considered “quality”…
Me too! (Spits into spittoon, rocks back and forth in rocking chair)
Decent signing for the Mets. Was hoping the Orioles would take a chance on him.
When Felix is focused and healthy he is ok. Always had a rough 1st inning then settle down. Would have one bad game out of 4 to bump up that ERA. Stuck in a rut of injuries last 2 years though. Despite the desperate need for healthy pitching, the Angels just couldn’t count on him making much of a difference vs. the mediocrity they already have.
And some of that mediocrity seems to have taken a step forward last year once given greater opportunity.
Patrick Sandoval turned 25 last season and put up 2.2 WAR in 87 innings.
Jose Suarez turned 24 last month and put up 1.9 WAR across 98.1 innings
Both looked pretty good. Hopefully that can be maintained over larger innings totals.
Gotcha and I hope there are innings this year JJ.
That’s an easy signing for the Mets. I think you’ll see more and more teams filling up with former starters to fill in their bullpens. Spot start here and there, multiple inning work in extra innings, losing efforts and double headers. Hard to believe he’s only 32. Not earth shattering, but winning teams need guys like this to eat up innings.
Using one guy like this for 3 IP in a blowout (loss or win) can save more valuable arms for other days
I actually really like this as a low risk signing. Pena is now far enough away from the TJ and subsequent hamstring injuries to be back to full health.
Given how rarely pitchers go past 5 innings or so nowadays, having a guy who can come in a couple times per week and give you 2-3 innings is quite valuable.
this is a good addition… med/high upside
oaktree429 aka black mercy
Since it’s a minor league contract that means he can join camp now our still have too wait for big league since they he would probably join ?
I think this is great since MLB should just start season with minor league players and let the MLBPA players go sell sporting goods at the mall.
Its not like watching replacement players in football; when all the A, AA, AAA guys who would of anyway made it to the majors will be there now and mature so in the future we will have great baseball.
Hang in there owners and let guys like Soto go pump gas and see if he gets half a billion dollars of guaranteed money!
It would be interesting to see if teams could draw 10,000 in attendance, on average, to watch what would be on the level of AA ball. Maybe they’d hit 10k on teams with destination parks like Fenway or Wrigley, but will Yankees fans really turn out to see 33 yo minor league veterans give up 8 BBs per game, and 19 yo SS’s boot grounders and make 45 errors in a season?
Peart of the game
I would’ve tried to get Felix Pena a shot with Pittsburgh instead, somewhere he would’ve had a better chance at a roster spot.
It’s the Mets. He’ll get a roster spot. On a platter, due to injury; but then he’ll get injured and the whole Twilight Zone thing…
Carasco will not be in the starting rotation, wether they get another starter or not. He might be the worst pitcher for the amount of money the Mets are paying him than they have ever had. He consistently gave up 5runs + every 1st inning. Hes finished
Felix Pena should add some more WAR to the Mets.
Good god. When Trevor Williams is in the mix for 5th starter and when a pitcher with serious illnesses who hasn’t pitched more than 80 innings since 2018 is your third starter, you’re in abysmal shape
.An iffy albeit superbly talented 1-2 SP, the inevitable next 55+ starts going to Carrasco, Walker, and Megill; the next 55+ starts after that going to Williams, Peterson, Yamamoto… that’s not a contender.
No real bench. No 4th or 5th OFer even though the primary ‘backup’ is likely to get more starts than any of Nimmo, Marte, and Canha. No real catcher. No minor league depth. Still pretending the 39 yo Cano might have something left.
And it’s going to get worse in 2023 before it gets better. The farm is still in the bottom 1/3 of MLB. The team is still run by a declining hack who added a proven, demonstrable failure in Eppler. This won’t be pretty, not at this payroll.