The Cubs have agreed to a 1-year, $10 million deal with left-handed hitting 1st baseman Carlos Pena. Pena is a great person in the clubhouse, but at 33 years of age, he could be on the downside of his career. During the 2010 MLB season, he did hit 28 HR’s with 84 RBI’s, but he also had a career-low .196 batting average and he struck out 158 times in 484 at-bats. These numbers are down from his earlier 3 seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays — in 2009, Pena hit .227 with 39 HR’s and 100 RBI’s and a .356 on-base percentage; in 2008, Pena hit .247 with 31 HR’s and 102 RBI’s and a .377 on-base percentage; and in 2007, Pena hit .282 with 46 HR’s and 121 RBI’s and a .411 on-base percentage.
Out of all the options (or lack of options) for GM Jim Hendry and the Cubs, this was my lead candidate. Being a great clubhouse guy is important, plus it will be nice for the Cubs to have a power-hitting left-handed hitter in the lineup. If you can accept the fact that he is going to strike out a lot in big situations, but still put up solid numbers at the end of the season, you will be thrilled with the Pena signing. Pena will also be reunited with Rudy Jaramillo – his hitting coach when he started in the Texas Rangers organization.
The Cubs clearly couldn’t afford Adam Dunn or lure Paul Konerko away from the South Side White Sox, so Pena was the next best option. Let’s hope he stays healthy and has a bounce-back year in terms of a better batting average and on-base percentage.