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.

Phillies sign Drew Storen and Bud Norris to minor league deals

Drew Storen
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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reported this afternoon that the Phillies signed veteran reliever Drew Storen to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. If Storen makes the major league roster, he will earn a $750,000 salary.

Storen, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2017 with the Reds. That year, he posted a 4.45 ERA with 48 strikeouts and 23 walks over 54 2/3 innings. Storen then underwent Tommy John surgery, which cost him the entire 2018 campaign. He inked a minor league deal with the Royals last year but struggled in nine appearances with Double-A Northwest Arkansas, resulting in his being released in June.

Robert Murray reports that the Phillies have also signed pitcher Bud Norris to a minor league contract. The right-hander, who turns 35 years old in March, missed the 2019 season due to a forearm injury. Norris was last seen in the majors in 2018 with the Cardinals, compiling a 3.59 ERA with 67 strikeouts and 21 walks over 57 2/3 innings of relief.

The Phillies had major bullpen problems last year and haven’t otherwise made any new additions so far this offseason. They’re hoping Storen and Norris have a little bit left in the tank.