Pena is in his first season with the Cubs after signing a 1 year $10 million deal this December. The first baseman has put up a line of .221/.334/.445 in 2011 with 20 home runs and 51 RBI’s. Pena continues to strike out at a high rate, but also knows how to take a walk.
After a disappointing start with Chicago this season, Pena bounced back for a solid May and June. The 33 year old posted OPS’s north of .900 each month, hitting 17 home runs over that span.
Once again the Cubs have fallen out of contention and are looking to move veterans and expiring contracts. Pena fits into both categories and while the Cubs have expressed interest in possibly resigning the first baseman, the club could save some serious money this season by dealing him now.
Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors.com explains that while most deadline deals save teams a third of the traded player’s salary, the Cubs would actually bank two thirds of Pena’s because of how the slugger’s contract is written.
The Pirates have already been in contact with the Cubs about possibly acquiring Pena, but apparently ran into problems during negotiations. It’s unknown if the teams didn’t agree on player value or money switching hands, but you would think that Pena would be a prime candidate to be moved considering his expiring deal.
Heyman mentioned Arizona as a team in play for Pena, and the Diamondbacks could certainly use a boost at first as they continue to chase the Giants in the NL West. On the year, Diamondback first baseman have combined for an OPS of only .698 with 11 home runs. Brandon Allen and his .150 batting average is currently acting as Arizona’s primary first baseman.
Thought Pena’s numbers aren’t eye-popping, he is on pace to hit over 30 home runs and plays solid defense at first. Over his career, Pena’s also show an inclination to go on tears as he did earlier this season.
An issue for Chicago is that there may not be too much of a market for Pena. Besides Pittsburgh, everyone else in the NL Central has first covered as do the contenders in the NL East. We’ve talked about Arizona, but the Giants don’t have a need if they’re sticking with Brandon Belt.
The same is true for the most part in the American League, but some team could possibly go after Pena as an option at DH.
But whatever the case, it would be wise for the Cubs to move him considering his contract and their current place in the standings, and Pena could prove to be the power bat that some team needs to put them over the top in their division.
Jordan Campbell over at Cubbies Crib shared his thoughts on the news that Pena could be moved yesterday.