Jon Heyman of SI.com reports that the Yankees have claimed Carlos Pena off recovable waivers, which means they have 48 hours to work out a potential trade with the Cubs.
Earlier today, before the Yankees were identified as the claiming team, Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com speculated that the Cubs trading Pena was unlikely because he’s owed $5 million in salary that’s deferred until January and they might want to re-sign him for 2012.
As usual Pena has been productive despite a low batting average and tons of strikeouts, posting a .342 on-base percentage and .450 slugging percentage thanks to 23 homers, 19 doubles, and 74 walks in 124 games. He’s also a good defender at first base, although with Mark Teixeira not going anywhere the Yankees would be acquiring Pena to serve as their primary designated hitter.
Andruw Jones, Jorge Posada, and Eric Chavez have been splitting DH duties recently and overall this season the Yankees have gotten a .755 OPS out of the position to rank eighth among AL teams. Pena has topped a .755 OPS in eight of his nine full seasons, with last year’s .732 mark being the lone exception.
The Rangers will not sign free agent reliever Seung-hwan Oh after all. Reports from MLB.com’s TR Sullivan indicate that negotiations were brought to a halt after a physical issue was found with the pitcher. While the specifics have yet to be released, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News says the issue was revealed on an MRI of the right-hander’s arm.
Oh was thought to be in talks with the Rangers last week, though a deal was never officially announced by the club. The 35-year-old righty is fresh off of a two-year run with the Cardinals, during which he posted a cumulative 39 saves, 2.85 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 10.2 SO/9 in 139 innings. He struggled with consistency in his sophomore season, however, and finished 2017 with a disappointing 4.10 ERA and 4.44 FIP in 62 appearances for the team.
While Oh hasn’t experienced any setbacks with his arm in the majors so far, he does have a history of prior injuries during his time in KBO. He sustained a shoulder injury in 2009 and underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow in 2010. It’s possible that the Rangers saw an entirely different problem on the MRI, but clearly it was enough to give them strong reservations about inking the righty to a $2.75+ million deal. It’s still possible that another of Oh’s suitors will offer him a contract prior to Opening Day; the Giants were rumored to be interested in the veteran reliever, among other teams, though their recent acquisition of lefty reliever Tony Watson will likely take them out of the running now.