UPDATE: Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com says Pena to the Rays is now a done deal and he’ll get $7.25 million.
Tampa Bay signed Luke Scott last week, but apparently the Rays aren’t done adding veteran left-handed bats.
Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports reports that the Rays are “pretty deep” in talks with Carlos Pena, who would step into middle of the lineup as their starting first baseman.
Pena had the best run of his career in Tampa Bay from 2006-2010, with back-to-back top-10 MVP finishes, three straight 100-RBI seasons, and a total of 144 homers in four years. He slumped to a .197 batting average (and 28 homers) in 2010 before leaving the Rays to sign a one-year, $10 million deal with the Cubs as a free agent.
Pena is often criticized for his low batting averages and high strikeout totals, but he’s topped an .800 OPS in four of the past five seasons while averaging 34 homers and 95 walks per year. On a modest one-year deal he’d be a very solid pickup for a team that can certainly use more offensive firepower to go along with their stacked pitching depth.
Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.
Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.
Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.