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Indians ask owners for payroll space to pursue Carlos Pena

Jan 12, 2012, 3:50 PM EDT

Chicago Cubs v Colorado Rockies Getty Images

Carlos Pena is one of the better free agents still available and Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the Indians are interested in the 33-year-old first baseman.

Whether or not they’ll be able to work something out is unclear, because according to Hoynes the front office went to ownership recently to see if they could get approval for the added payroll and there’s no word yet on how that meeting went.

Pena tends to be underrated because many people focus on his low batting average and high strikeout total while ignoring his strong overall production. He hit 28 homers and drew 101 walks for an .819 OPS last season and has topped an .800 OPS in four of the past five years despite hitting just .236 during that time.

Presumably a one-year deal for something along the lines of the $10 million Pena earned with the Cubs last season would get it done. For now first base in unsettled in Cleveland, although catcher Carlos Santana would no doubt see significant action there and Matt LaPorta is another in-house possibility.

  1. proudlycanadian - Jan 12, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    $10 million seems to be high. After all, he is 33 and he is still unsigned even though spring training begins in February.

    • hackerjay - Jan 12, 2012 at 4:12 PM

      I wonder if he has really even talked to anyone yet, or if he has just been waiting for Fielder and Pujols to sign first. You have to figure his value will go up once those two are off the board.

  2. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 12, 2012 at 4:20 PM

    The Indians sure could use him. Pena’s a good dude, I’ll miss him in Chicago.

  3. cur68 - Jan 12, 2012 at 5:08 PM

    I just saw him in Moneyball. In an ironic twist looks like he’s become Scott Hatteberg now: not much in the BA but terrific at getting on base regardless. If Theo saw the same movie I did, perhaps he should be hanging on to Pena?

  4. kingjoe1 - Jan 12, 2012 at 5:39 PM

    Did I miss something? Carlos Pena has an avg around 215 and an OBP around .330 over the last three years. This is not a one year mirage, he is terrible. 5 million a year at best to be a DH.

    • diehardcubbiefan4life - Jan 12, 2012 at 6:02 PM

      PLEASE. Before you mindlessly comment, do your research. Carlos Pena is an EXCELLENT defender at 1st base, God knows how many Starlin Castro errors he saved last season. Second, he may hit .215, but he hit 28 homeruns and has absolute eagles eye at the plate. His OBP+ is +115 with your stats, look some other superstar sluggers up, they’ll be right there with him on that stat. Loved him in Chicago, hope he does well elsewhere.

      • kingjoe1 - Jan 12, 2012 at 7:35 PM

        Your are out of your mind. The HR did not get past me, but that doesnt mean a whole heck of lot in helping a team. Think about what you are saying. He had 28 HR hit 196, yes 196 two years ago, came back hit the same number of HR’s and hit 225. Think about the fact that he hit 28 HR and had only 80 RBI’s. Every team wants more than that from a 1st baseman. If you like stats so much you should try looking at his slugging percentage compared to other 1b, not very good.

        Like I said he is worth about 5 mil a year at best on a very short, maybe even one year deal. His stats are going down quickly with age.

      • baseballisboring - Jan 13, 2012 at 1:53 AM

        Him having 80 RBI’s means little to nothing. He could’ve just as easily had 73 or 94. 28 Home runs does a lot to help a team, actually, and he did a good job at avoiding outs on the way to those 28 HRs with a .352 OBP last year. His BABIP fell almost 60 points below his career mark in 2010, his K and BB rates were pretty much in line with his career averages. His career SLG might not be elite for first baseman, but he’s a pretty good bet to crack an .800 OPS and add value on defense at first base. So to say he’s terrible is pretty far off the mark…

  5. ispysomething7 - Jan 12, 2012 at 11:11 PM

    People are missing the point of the story. The Indians front office had to ASK ownership to sign this stiff. Translation: the Dolan’s don’t want to spend any money. I could only imagine the conversation.

    Antonetti: Guys we need to do something! We just wiped out the pitching in our farm system for that stiff in Colorado! Last time I checked, the team with the most runs, wins!

    Dolan: Ummm, no…… We sign him, I lose money

    Antonetti: We’re going to lose the interest of the fans!! Don’t you care? He’s at the best left and a steal like Hatteberg! Didn’t you read Moneyball?

    Dolan: Umm, no. If you think this guy is like Hatteberg, why does he cost so much? Didn’t Hatteberg cost only $1MM? Anything over that is a no. Maybe you should go watch the movie Moneyball instead. Brad Pitt stole the show!

    Antonetti: (on the phone with Shapiro): I thought you told me the Dolan’s are easy to work with? What the hell did you get me in too???!!??!!

    Shapiro: Sucker!!!!!!!!

  6. jimmymfb - Jan 13, 2012 at 12:41 AM

    that sir is the worst comment ive seen outside of cleveland.com
    you are a stain sir.

  7. foreverchipper10 - Jan 13, 2012 at 10:43 AM

    Even if they want to give Santana and LaPorta time at first signing Pena would provide insurance for if (but more likely when) Pronk gets bit by the injury bug.

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