Yankees claim Carlos Pena off revocable waivers from Cubs

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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.

If the Tigers are sub-.500 at the end of June it’ll be fire sale time

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Jon Morosi reports that that the Detroit Tigers will make all veterans available via trade if they’re still under .500 by the end of June.

This was the position they entered the offseason with — everyone is available! — but they ended up gearing up for one more push with the core of veterans they currently employ. It was not a bad move, I don’t think. With the exception of the Indians, the AL Central is mostly down, or at least appeared to be over the winter, with the Royals in decline and the Twins and White Sox seemingly a few years away from contention. The Twins, however, have been fantastic and the Tigers have mostly underachieved.

So we’re back to this. Which veterans the Tigers can reasonably unload, however, is an open question. J.D. Martinez is in his walk year, so while tradable, he may not bring back a big return. Guys like Justin Upton, Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera either have very large contracts or no-trade protection.

The end of June is still a while from now, of course, and while the Tigers are under .500, they’re only 4.5 games behind the Twins. But they had better turn it around or else it sounds like the front office is going to turn the page.

Must-Click Link: Remembering Eddie Grant the first major leaguer to die in combat

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As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.

The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.

Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.

Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.