Indians ask owners for payroll space to pursue Carlos Pena

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Carlos Pena is one of the better free agents still available and Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the Indians are interested in the 33-year-old first baseman.

Whether or not they’ll be able to work something out is unclear, because according to Hoynes the front office went to ownership recently to see if they could get approval for the added payroll and there’s no word yet on how that meeting went.

Pena tends to be underrated because many people focus on his low batting average and high strikeout total while ignoring his strong overall production. He hit 28 homers and drew 101 walks for an .819 OPS last season and has topped an .800 OPS in four of the past five years despite hitting just .236 during that time.

Presumably a one-year deal for something along the lines of the $10 million Pena earned with the Cubs last season would get it done. For now first base in unsettled in Cleveland, although catcher Carlos Santana would no doubt see significant action there and Matt LaPorta is another in-house possibility.

Buyers and Sellers at the Trade Deadline: American League West

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With Manny Machado’s trade completed, the rest of baseball can now turn its attention to the non-blue chip players on the market.

Yesterday, in our look-ahead to the second half, we mentioned some of the top players likely to be made available. Today we look at each team to see who is buying, who is selling, what they’re seeking and what they have to offer. Note: almost every contender, always, needs relief help.

As a reminder, the non-waiver Trade Deadline is July 31. Players traded after that date but before August 31 need to pass through waivers unclaimed before they can be traded. All players traded before August 31 are eligible to be on their new team’s playoff roster should they make the postseason.

Next up, the American League West:

Astros
Status: Buyers, but nothin’ too fancy.
Wanted: They, like all contenders, could use a bullpen arm, but they’re not in dire straits in that regard or anything. They certainly won’t deal top prospects to get one. They have to like where they are right now, especially given that both the Mariners and the Athletics have outperformed their Pythagorean record, suggesting they’ve already thrown their hardest punch. Note: people said the Astros would stand pat last year too and all they did was go out and get Justin Freakin’ Verlander, so take this analysis with a Dead Sea’s worth of salt.

Mariners
Status: Buyers. Jerry Dipoto is always wheelin’ and dealin’.
Wanted: A starter would be key, as the M’s front four have pitched a lot of innings. They could also use some relief help even though Dipoto has overhauled the bullpen in the past year or so. Seems that, sometimes, overhauls don’t make things as good as new. Robinson Cano comes back in mid-August and that’s like getting a free bat at the deadline, but he’ll be ineligible for the playoffs and his return may create some positional musical chairs for the M’s, meaning that they probably shouldn’t say no to at least hearing teams out on offers of bats, should they come.

Athletics
Status: Buyers, surprisingly. I don’t even think they thought they’d be in the Wild Card hunt. Heck, the vast majority of preseason coverage of this team assumed that they’d be shopping Jed Lowrie and Jonathan Lucroy at this point right now. Heck, I figured they signed Lucroy for that express purpose.
Wanted: Probably pitching. Who doesn’t need pitching? The question is what the A’s will give up. See above point about not expecting to be in this position.

Angels
Status: Sellers, but reluctant ones. The Angels loaded for bear this year but injuries have just curb-stomped them. Even their biggest trade chit — Garrett Richards — is hurt.
For Sale: Some relievers mostly.  Blake ParkerCam Bedrosian and Justin Anderson come to mind. They’d buy if they could but their farm system is a mess. It’s just the worst of both worlds for a team that could’ve done so much better this year.

Rangers
Status: Sellers
For Sale: Cole Hamels is the most obvious candidate to be traded, but they’ll listen to offers on most of their players. Even Adrian Beltre has said he’d be willing to waive his no-trade rights for a contender.