Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported yesterday that the Indians’ front office had approached ownership about expanding the payroll to sign Carlos Pena, but he might not be the only free agent first baseman on the team’s radar.
Jordan Bastian of MLB.com confirms the team’s interest in Pena, but adds that Casey Kotchman is also in the mix and says together they’re “two names high on Cleveland’s list.”
Bastian goes on to call Kotchman “the more realistic option” and that makes sense, because he’s also the less productive option. Kotchman had a .306 batting average last season while Pena hit just .225, yet Pena still posted the higher OPS with an .819 mark compared to .800 from Kotchman. And that was Kotchman’s best season since 2008, whereas Pena has topped an .800 OPS in four of the past five years and has a career OPS that’s 100 points higher than Kotchman’s.
If the Indians fail to sign Pena or Kotchman their fallback plan at first base involves Carlos Santana, Matt LaPorta, and Shelley Duncan, but it certainly sounds as though their adding a free agent is likely.
While newly-acquired talent Danny Espinosa was off collecting hits for the Blue Jays against the Orioles, Marcus Stroman led a youth-filled roster against the Canadian Junior National Team in a split-squad game on Saturday. In the eighth inning, 17-year-old Canadian pitcher Braden Halladay took the mound to honor his late father’s memory against his former team.
Halladay accomplished just that, wielding a fastball that topped out in the low-80s and setting down a perfect 1-2-3 inning against the top of the lineup. No one batter saw more than a single pitch from the right-hander: Mc Gregory Contreras and Mattingly Romanin flew out to the outfield corners and Bo Bichette laid down a ground ball for an easy third out.
MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm has a fantastic profile of the high school junior, including his approach to the game and his attempt to do Roy Halladay proud while carving out his own path to the majors. “From a pitching standpoint, it was everything I could have asked for and more,” Halladay told reporters. “Especially now, every time I make mistakes, I still hear him drilling me about them in my head, just because he’s done it so many times before. From a mind-set standpoint, I don’t think with any bias that I could have had a better teacher.”