Chicago Cubs News

Cubs And Carlos Pena Agree To Terms

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The Chicago Cubs have finally found their next first baseman, and left handed power hitter to add to the lineup. Last night, the Cubs met with Scott Boras for the second night in a row to talk about a possible deal for free agent first baseman Carlos Pena. It was at that meeting that the two sides agreed to 1 year contract for $10MM.

With Scott Boras telling reporters throughout the process that he wanted a 2 or 3 year deal for Carlos Pena, it is kind of surprising that he agreed to a one year deal with the Chicago Cubs. However, considering that the Cubs gave Pena $10MM, Boras was able to forget about wanting a multi-year deal for his client Carlos Pena. To be honest, the Cubs might have overpaid for another free agent.

Leading up to the Cubs signing of Pena, the expectation was that Pena would probably command or $7MM-$8MM salary in his next contract. Instead, the Cubs decided to give Pena a $10MM contract for one year. To compare, the Cubs probably could have signed free agent first baseman Adam LaRoche to a one year deal worth only $6MM or $7MM. In fact, some baseball insiders ranked LaRoche as a higher free agent than Carlos Pena. So, in a year in where money is tight for the Chicago Cubs, it does not make sense to overpay for an overvalued free agent.

Nonetheless, Carlos Pena is a Chicago Cub for better or worse. In 2010, Pena struggled by hitting .196/.325/.407, but, he did have a strong power year as he hit 28 home runs with 84 runs driven in. The Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago Cubs offer different reports on Carlos Pena. The Rays, were Pena’s last team before he signed the contract with the Chicago Cubs today. The Rays feel that Pena’s highly rated defensive skills began to decline at the end of last season, along with his power. However, the Cubs feel that Pena is still playing defense on a level that made him the 2008 Gold Glove winner. Cubs also feel that despite a decline in power numbers over the past 4 years (2009 being the only exception), Pena still has elite power and it will benefit from playing in Wrigley Field.The Cubs also like Pena’s reputation for having a good clubhouse presence.

For what it is worth, the esteemed Bill James projects Pena to hit .228/.354/.473 with 30 home runs and 86 RBI’s in the 2011 season.

I’m glad that the Chicago Cubs only gave Pena a one year deal. That means that despite Adrian Gonzalez going to Boston, and the probable chance of Albert Pujols remaining in St Louis they still have every intention of trying to add a premier first baseman next year. Realistically, Prince Fielder could be the only big name first baseman on the market next year.

As far as where the Cubs go from here, Gordon Wittenmyer reports that they will focus more so trades instead of the free agent market to fill their pitching needs. However, Wittenmyer did indicate that the Cubs remain interested in free agent starter Brandon Webb, who will be in line for an incentive laden deal this winter. Also, the Cubs will begin to shop Kosuke Fukudome, who they wanted to wait to trade until they had a left handed run producer in place.

As for the possible Cubs and Rangers deal that would send Cubs prospects Robinson Chirinos and Rafael Dolis to the Rangers for first baseman Chris Davis and Darren O’day, it is no off the table according to Wittenmyer.

The Cubs will officially announce that Carlos Pena at some point today.

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