Another former Braves prospect has latched onto a new team, per Baseball America’s Ben Badler. The Rangers reportedly inked shortstop Yenci Pena to a $675,000 signing bonus, which will add to the $1.05 million Pena already received from the Braves.
Pena, 17, originally signed on with Atlanta last July as part of a group that included shortstop Kevin Maitan, catcher Abrahan Gutierrez and infielders Yunior Severino and Livan Soto. In 2017, he spent his age-16 season in the Dominican Summer League and hit .230/.328/.655 with 11 extra-base hits and seven stolen bases in 190 plate appearances.
With Pena off the market, just four ex-Braves prospects still remain unsigned: right-hander Juan Contreras, shortstop Angel Rojas and outfielders Antonio Sucre and Brandol Mezquita. According to Badler, the four are eligible to accept a second signing bonus through January 15. Of the nine players who have already found a landing spot this winter, Yunior Severino (Twins) and Kevin Maitan (Angels) have commanded the highest bonuses, at $2.5 million and $2.2 million, respectively.
If it were up to him, Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson would finish the remainder of his career in Toronto. In fact, he’d be “ticked pink” if the club decided to sign him to a long-term deal. Whether the Blue Jays share that sentiment is still unclear, as Donaldson said Saturday that the team has yet to engage his agent in extension talks.
“I’ve said that I wanted to be here,” he told MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm. “That’s pretty much all I can say. I’m not the one who makes the decisions, nor would I try to put them in the position to do that. Like I said, I believe the situation will become more fluid when the time is right.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean an extension is out of the question. The Blue Jays reached an unprecedented one-year, $23 million agreement with the three-time All-Star in arbitration, and have been reticent to field trade offers despite continued interest from the Cardinals this winter.
Donaldson, 32, is poised to enter his eighth season in the majors and fourth with the Blue Jays. In 2017, he batted .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs and a .944 OPS in 496 plate appearances, ranking sixth among all major league third baseman with 5.0 fWAR. He’s scheduled to enter free agency following the 2018 season.