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.

Braves sign veteran right-hander Tomlin to minor league deal

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The Atlanta Braves have signed right-hander Josh Tomlin to a minor league contract with an invitation to the team’s major league camp.

The 34-year-old Tomlin, who was released by Milwaukee on Wednesday, had a 6.14 ERA in 32 games, including nine starts, with Cleveland in 2018. Tomlin was 61-53 with a 4.77 ERA in nine seasons with the Indians.

Tomlin was 2-1 with a 4.80 ERA in five games with the Brewers this spring after joining the team on a minor league deal.

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