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Carlos Pena and Casey Kotchman are “two names high on Cleveland’s list”

Jan 13, 2012, 10:47 AM EDT

carlos pena ap AP

Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported yesterday that the Indians’ front office had approached ownership about expanding the payroll to sign Carlos Pena, but he might not be the only free agent first baseman on the team’s radar.

Jordan Bastian of MLB.com confirms the team’s interest in Pena, but adds that Casey Kotchman is also in the mix and says together they’re “two names high on Cleveland’s list.”

Bastian goes on to call Kotchman “the more realistic option” and that makes sense, because he’s also the less productive option. Kotchman had a .306 batting average last season while Pena hit just .225, yet Pena still posted the higher OPS with an .819 mark compared to .800 from Kotchman. And that was Kotchman’s best season since 2008, whereas Pena has topped an .800 OPS in four of the past five years and has a career OPS that’s 100 points higher than Kotchman’s.

If the Indians fail to sign Pena or Kotchman their fallback plan at first base involves Carlos Santana, Matt LaPorta, and Shelley Duncan, but it certainly sounds as though their adding a free agent is likely.

  1. largebill - Jan 13, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    This is the sort of garbage move that irritates fans that actually look deeper than the surface. Some people want the team to do something – do anything – spend some money, etc. Some people don’t like LaPorta’s production. I think some of the feelings towards LaPorta is due to anger over not getting an immediate star for Sabathia. Thing is neither Kotchman nor Pena are much if any upgrade over LaPorta. Kotchman had less homers and RBI than LaPorta even though Kotchman had more than 200 more plate appearances. LaPorta is not a finished product and strike out too much, but Pena is finished and strikes out even more. LaPorta is 27, Kotchman will be 29 by opening day and Pena will turn 34 soon thereafter. I’d rather give LaPorta 550 AB’s and see what we get. My guess is with regular consistent playing time he’d hit .275 with 25+ homers and learn strike zone enough to draw a few more walks than last year. Don’t get me wrong, if Tribe was making a serious upgrade I’d say spend the money and goodbye to LaPorta. If it isn’t a serious upgrade don’t bother making a move just to say you did something.

  2. Lukehart80 - Jan 13, 2012 at 4:42 PM

    I agree that neither of these guys is a massive upgrade, but I’d be interested to see the price tag on Kotchman. His offense is not going to match last season, but he is a fine fielder, and while 1B defense isn’t the most important thing in the world, the team is planning for their pitchers to get a lot of ground balls, and a strong glove at first could mean a decent number of extra outs.

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