Sorry, Lance Berkman: Carlos Pena signs with the Astros

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The Astros had been talking to Lance Berkman to be their DH and play some first base. It seems as though they’re going in a different direction now, though:

Probably less money than Berkman was looking for, based on previous reports.

Pena has always been a low-average hitter, and that was OK when he hit for a lot of power and took walks. He still walked 87 times last year but his homers dipped to 19 and his doubles went down by ten from the year before. That left an ugly line of .197/.330/.354.  In light of that he represents some pretty major uncertainty. Although Berkman would have as well, just less with performance than with health.

In other news, now that Pena has signed with Jeff Luhnow’s new-look Astros after having previously played for Andrew Friedman’s Rays, Theo Epstein’s Red Sox and Billy Beane’s A’s, he’s only one punch short on the “sign with a SABR-friendly general manager” card from a free contract.

Brewers, Jimmy Nelson avoid arbitration with one-year, $3.7 million contract

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Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the Brewers and starter Jimmy Nelson have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year, $3.7 million contract. The deal includes a $50,000 bonus if he wins Comeback Player of the Year Award, per Fancred’s Jon Heyman.

Nelson, 29, was entering his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. The right-hander missed the entire 2018 season after undergoing shoulder surgery in September 2017. He had a solid 2017 season, finishing with a 3.49 ERA and a 199/48 K/BB ratio in 1751/3 innings of work. The Brewers are hoping he can return to form this coming season.

Assuming he’s healthy and productive, he will rejoin a rotation that now includes Jhoulys Chacin, Chase Anderson, Zach Davis, and an as yet undecided No. 5 starter.