The signing of Carlos Pena is finally starting to pay off for for general manager Jim Hendry and the Chicago Cubs. While Pena went the entire first month of the season without hitting a home run, the Cubs first baseman has been on a tear of late. Pena had two home runs yesterday, which put his season total at 16. The free agent to be is in on pace to hit 33 home runs this season, which figures to help Pena’s stock when he looks to strike it rich this off-season. The Cubs have an interesting dilemma on their hands when it comes to Pena. With Pena’s power production mirroring that of the league leaders, the chances increase that Pena would appeal to any team looking for a middle of the order hitter.
Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald reports that Pena would look more appealing on contending teams, considering the Cubs are already 14 games below the .500 mark. The case can be made that the Cubs should trade Pena. The biggest reason could be that Pena offers the Cubs the most value of any other player they wish to trade. Other players on the Cubs roster that the front office would like to trade hold no trade clauses that increases the difficulty of trading them. That is not the case for Pena, who does not have a no trade clause and is a free agent after the season.
When asked about the possibility of being traded, Pena said he would like to remain with the Cubs.
"“I’m a Cub,” said Pena, who signed a one-year, $10 million free-agent deal last December. “I don’t imagine myself anywhere else. I don’t even look that far ahead. In fact, I would look to win here. And that’s the only way I would have it. What’s going to happen in the future, I have no idea, but in my mind, I’m a Cub until the end.” Daily Herald"
The Cubs are in an interesting dilemma when it comes to Carlos Pena. Pena would certainly net the Cubs a valuable return–unlike other players on their roster–but, if the Cubs were to trade Pena that would leave their first base position vacant. The Cubs do not have a first baseman of the future in their system that is close to being ready for the major leagues. As Luke has mentioned before, there are a couple names in the lower levels of the Cubs organization that can earn that label. But for now, the Cubs do not have a first baseman in waiting. A likely option to replace Pena if he is traded would be Bryan LaHair. LaHair is not a prospect, and would be viewed as someone to bridge the gap until the Cubs find a long-term solution at first base. Having said that, LaHair is still having an impressive season with the Iowa Cubs. LaHair is hitting .361/.430/.680/1.110 with 21 home runs as a member of the I-Cubs this season. LaHair, though, has yet to translate his minor league success to success in the majors.
The way I see it, the Cubs only have two options in regards to how they handle Pena. If the Cubs do not trade Pena, then, they should sign him to an extension. Even though this is Pena’s first season as a Chicago Cub, he has quickly become a team leader and team mentor to many of the young players on the Cubs roster. Pena would be a good voice to have in the Cubs clubhouse while the Cubs attempt to rebuild on the fly.