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.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.