UPDATE: Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com says Pena to the Rays is now a done deal and he’ll get $7.25 million.
Tampa Bay signed Luke Scott last week, but apparently the Rays aren’t done adding veteran left-handed bats.
Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports reports that the Rays are “pretty deep” in talks with Carlos Pena, who would step into middle of the lineup as their starting first baseman.
Pena had the best run of his career in Tampa Bay from 2006-2010, with back-to-back top-10 MVP finishes, three straight 100-RBI seasons, and a total of 144 homers in four years. He slumped to a .197 batting average (and 28 homers) in 2010 before leaving the Rays to sign a one-year, $10 million deal with the Cubs as a free agent.
Pena is often criticized for his low batting averages and high strikeout totals, but he’s topped an .800 OPS in four of the past five seasons while averaging 34 homers and 95 walks per year. On a modest one-year deal he’d be a very solid pickup for a team that can certainly use more offensive firepower to go along with their stacked pitching depth.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosh reports that the Cardinals are shutting down pitcher Carlos Martínez from throwing for two weeks because his shoulder strength isn’t where it should have been at this point. Langosch added that an MRI showed no structural damage in Martínez’s right shoulder.
Interestingly, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak didn’t sound too happy with Martínez offseason training regimen. Per Mark Saxon of The Athletic, Mozeliak said, “Obviously, there’s a history with Carlos’ shoulder and it would be probably in everybody’s best interest if he maintained a constant or perpetual approach to that program.”
Martínez, 27, battled oblique and shoulder injuries last year. He accrued just 118 2/3 innings, making just 18 starts. He was moved to the bullpen when he returned from the disabled list in August and finished out the season in that role. Still, Martínez managed a 3.11 ERA with 117 strikeouts and 60 walks.
Langosch reported last week that the Cardinals were considering using Martínez in relief again in 2019. The latest news may push the Cardinals to indeed use Martínez out of the bullpen once again. He will be reevaluated in early March, but there is a chance he won’t be ready for Opening Day.