The Cleveland Indians have signed Wily Mo Pena to a minor league deal. Yes, that Wily Mo Pena. As if there could be another.
Pena did not play pro ball at all — anywhere — in 2016. In 2015 he played for the Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan, hitting .268/.396/.448 with 17 home runs in 125 games. He played for the Orix Buffaloes the year before that and the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks in 2013 and 2012. He hit well at those stops when he was healthy. His last work in the United States: 2011, when he split time between the Diamondbacks and Mariners to underwhelming effect.
The odds of Pena making the Indians are super long. Indeed, this is a minor league deal without an invite to big league camp, meaning that he’s unlikely to even see garbage time in major league spring training games absent some injuries or absent him really, really impressing someone in workouts. Pena is 35 too, so even with some decent success in Japan, it’s possible that he simply isn’t good enough to make a team anymore.
Still, for a few brief moments several years ago, Pena turned some heads with his prodigious power and the suggestion that, if a couple of things fell in the right direction, he could be a good big leaguer one day. It never happened, but a lot of us have a hard time letting go of that sort of thing, so we perk up a bit when we hear of signings like this.
Last month, free agent right-hander Bartolo Colon told reporters that he’d be open to taking a minor league deal in 2018, but only if he was guaranteed a return to the Mets’ system. The 44-year-old starter is nearing the end of a 20-year career, and it makes sense that he’d want to have one last hurrah in the city where he had some of his most productive years.
Now, Twins starter Ervin Santana tells Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, it looks like the Mets might also be open to a reunion. It’s doubtful that Colon has all that much left in the tank, especially following a combined 7-14 record and 6.48 ERA for the Braves and Twins last year, but he’s not necessarily looking to reproduce the 15+ win, sub-4.00 ERA totals of years past.
Instead, Santana says, Colon is seeking the opportunity to win just six more games. He’ll enter the 2018 season five wins shy of the all-time record for a Latin American-born player, and is hoping to claim that title for himself before he enters retirement in 2019. Former Orioles and Expos hurler Dennis Martinez currently holds the record after clinching his 245th win back in 1998. While it took Colon a full season of starts to come up with even seven wins in 2017, he’s only one year removed from a 15-win campaign in 2016. Provided that the Mets are willing to gamble on him again, the milestone may not be that far out of reach.