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.