Wily Mo Pena’s comeback attempt never quite took hold, as he totaled just 120 plate appearances for the Mariners and Diamondbacks, and now the flawed but powerful 29-year-old has agreed to a two-year contract to play in Japan for the Softbank Hawks.
Earlier this week reports pegged Pena’s contract as being worth around $5 million, so it’s tough to blame him for choosing Japan over trying to stick in American long enough to make $500,000 or so in a season.
Pena has never lost his 30-homer power, going deep seven times in just 113 at-bats this year, but his complete lack of plate discipline and defensive ability have held him back since initial success from 2004-2006.
Softbank are the reigning Japanese champions and it wouldn’t be surprising if Pena puts up some monster numbers. He hit .250 with 84 homers and a .748 OPS in 599 games as a major leaguer, averaging 25 homers per 500 at-bats.
CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has been working out daily with free agent starter Jake Arrieta in Austin. The right-hander, who won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, still remains teamless with spring training less than a month away. Williams has been trying to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies.
Williams said of Arrieta, “He loves it here [Austin]. He has told me he likes working with young guys. I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.”
On GM Matt Klentak’s hunt for pitching help, new manager Gabe Kapler said, “The pursuit is very real. I have a lot of trust that we’ll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we’re better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”
Arrieta, who turns 32 years old in March, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and a 163/55 K/BB ratio in 168 1/3 innings last season with the Cubs. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have been linked to Arrieta this month.
Presently, the Phillies’ starting rotation figures to include Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez along with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, and Jake Thompson. Arrieta would certainly amount to a big upgrade in the starting rotation and could make the Phillies a more attractive landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who become free agents after the 2018 campaign. The Phillies are expected to be in the mix for either or both players.