MLB Betting News: Cubs Land Carlos Pena to Play First Base
Only in Major League Baseball could a guy who hit .196 last season get a $10 million contract as a free agent this year.
That’s exactly what happened late Tuesday when former Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Carlos Pena, who batted .196 with 28 homers and 84 RBIs last season for the AL East champs, signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the Chicago Cubs to basically replace Derrek Lee for one season. That .196 average was the lowest for a full-time player in baseball since Rob Deer in 2003. The Cubs, who are expected to cut payroll, would only do a one-year deal, which could help Pena if he bounces back from last season as he will be a free agent again next offseason. He had three good previous seasons with the Rays, hitting 39 homers and driving in 100 runs in 2009, going 31-102 in 2008 and 46-121 in 2007.
Pena will never hit for a high average and will strike out a ton, but he also walks a lot and is a very good defensive first baseman. That was key for the Cubs because they have an erratic left side of the infield in shortstop Starlin Castro and third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Pena’s left-handed bat balances out a Cub lineup that will rely heavily on right-handed hitters Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd and Castro. The Cubs’ only internal option was to move youngster Tyler Colvin, an outfielder, to first.
The Orioles and Blue Jays, among a few other teams, also were in the running for Pena’s services. By the way, Pena is now the fourth Cub named Carlos (joining Zambrano, Silva and Marmol). Chicago still is no better than the third favorite in the NL Central behind the Cardinals and Reds. The Cubs now figure to focus on trading for a starting pitcher.
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