Buster Olney reports that the Washington Nationals are “enthusiastic” about their chances of signing free agent first baseman Carlos Pena.
Interesting choice of words in that I don’t think as signing of Pena would bring much enthusiasm to Nats fans. Sure, he’s a more productive hitter than his [gulp] .196 average would suggest, but that’s faint praise. He needs to hit better to be able to carry first base, even on a last place team. There’s a chance that he could improve with a move to the National League, but at 33, improvement is by no means assured.
The interesting thing about this is that the guy Pena would replace — Adam Dunn — was derided by many because they saw only the strikeouts and didn’t appreciate that his great plate patience made him far more valuable than the average fan suspected. Pena would be an even more extreme case of that, with terrible contact hitting subbing in for Dunn’s K’s. Oh, and a good 10-12 fewer homers too.
It was first reported that the Blue Jays and Jose Bautista were close to a deal last night. Now Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is near completion. It will likely a two-year contract in the $35-40 million range.
Bautista had a tough 2016, hitting .234/.366/.452 with 22 home runs and 69 RBI, and some clubs likely considered a long-term deal for the 36-year-old too risky, this leading to the relative lack of reported interest in Bautista by other clubs. But back-to-back ALCS appearances by the Jays and the success and popularity Bautista has experienced in Toronto make his re-signing there a pretty sensible move for all involved.
The Jays, who already lost Edwin Encarnacion to free agency, get their slugger back on a short term deal. Unlike anyone else, they don’t have to give up the draft pick attached to him via the qualifying offer. Bautista, in turn, will make, on average, more than he would’ve made on the qualifying offer if he would’ve accepted it and a raise over the $14 million he made in 2016.
The Padres have signed Trevor Cahill to a one-year, $1.75 million contract.
As recently as the middle of the 2015 season it looked like Cahill’s career would meet a premature end, but after being released by the Braves and signing with the Cubs in August of that season he has been a remarkably effective reliever. He has posted a 2.61 ERA in 61 games in Chicago and has posted a strikeout rate far above his career norms.
He’s not someone you necessarily want taking the hill when the leverage is high, but in San Diego the leverage won’t be all that high all that often.