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.
Rangers GM Jon Daniels said he doesn’t expect the club to make a $17.9 million qualifying offer to free agent third baseman Adrián Beltré, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reports. Daniels has been in touch with the 39-year-old, who may retire.
Beltré battled hip and hamstring issues throughout the past season, limiting him to 119 games. He hit .273/.328/.434 with 15 home runs and 65 RBI in 481 plate appearances. Going by adjusted OPS, his mark of 98 — 100 is average — was his lowest in a season since 2009 with the Mariners. Beltré’s career average is 116 and he put up a 132 in 2017 and 128 in ’16.
Beltré appears to have some stuff left in the tank. He may not be an All-Star-caliber player anymore, but he can still hit at an average level and he is still an above-average defender. It’s just a matter of his body holding up to allow him to do what he needs to do. If Beltré does decide to re-up with the Rangers for 2019, the club will be prepared to move Isiah Kiner-Falefa or Jurickson Profar over to the hot corner as they did in 2018 in the event Beltré gets bitten by the injury bug.