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.

Carlos Gómez fined for criticizing umpire on Twitter

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rays outfielder Carlos Gómez has been fined $10,000 for criticizing umpire Andy Fletcher on Twitter last week. Gomez himself didn’t disclose the amount of the fine, but he did say, “I don’t think it’s fair.”

During Thursday’s game against the Blue Jays, Gómez pinch-hit and struck out looking. Even before the game ended, Gómez went on Twitter and posted several videos of questionable ball-and-strike calls by Fletcher. He wrote, “If anyone needed to be ejected out of tonight’s game it was Andy Fletcher!!” Gómez apologized later that night but still called Fletcher “brutal.”

Gómez, 32, has had a tough year. He’s hitting .212/.302/.343 with nine home runs, 32 RBI, 42 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 400 plate appearances. It’s understandable A) that Gómez is frustrated and B) he might be looking for any kind of edge he can get.