Carlos Pena is the starting first baseman for a team that wants to make the playoffs. Carlos Pena is hitting .188/.318/.339. Teams that make the playoffs usually don’t have starting first basemen who hit .188/.318/.339. Ergo:
Manager Joe Maddon made a point to say there still will be days Carlos Peña plays first base. But he made it clear Thursday that Peña is not going to play nearly as much, with the job now to be shared three ways.
Marc Topkin reports that the new arrangement will be Jeff Keppinger playing first base regularly against left-handers with Luke Scott sharing time with Pena against righties.
Pena is 0 for his last 17 as the Rays have been shut out six times in August. That doesn’t play, even if you can occasionally hit one out of the park. The fact that he’s losing time to Luke Scott, who hasn’t been great shakes this year himself, tells you all you need to know.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today says that the San Francisco Giants “have keen interest” in Rays third baseman Evan Longoria.
Longoria is coming off his worst season as a major leaguer, having hit .261/.313/.424 with 20 homers in 2017. He’s also still owed $86 million through 2022. Which, back when the deal was signed seemed like quite a bargain for the Rays — and likely has been over the duration of the contract — but now seems somewhat steep for the 32 year-old third baseman. That said, the Giants currently have Pablo Sandoval penciled in at third base on their depth chart, so Longoria would definitely be an upgrade, even if 2017’s dip wasn’t just a blip.
Nightengale says that for the Giants to take on Longoria, the Rays would have to take on a high salary veteran such as Denard Span or Hunter Pence. Span is owed $9 million in 2018, with a $4 million buyout on a $12 million option for 2019. Pence is owed $18.5 million in 2018 in the final year of his contract and has a full no-trade clause.
If he stays with the Rays, Longoria will achieve 10-5 rights — full no-trade protection due to being a ten-year veteran with five years of service on the same club — so if the Rays are going to move him, it’ll be much easier this offseason, not once the 2018 season begins.