Astros release first baseman Carlos Pena

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From Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle comes word that the Astros have released Carlos Pena, who was designated for assignment 10 days ago.

Pena was batting just .209/.324/.350 with eight home runs and 25 RBI in 85 games this year for the Astros and he hit .197/.330/.354 in 160 games last year for the Rays. But he still owns a cool .813 career OPS and could draw some interest in free agency from contending teams seeking a powerful bench bat.

Pena, 35, inked a one-year, $2.9 million free agent contract with the Astros back in mid-December to serve as the club’s primary first baseman. Brett Wallace has since taken over that gig.

Royals, Alex Gordon close to contract agreement

Alex Gordon
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MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports that the Royals and outfielder Alex Gordon are “getting close” to an agreement on a one-year contract. Terms of the deal aren’t yet known, but the Royals could make it official within the next few days.

Gordon, who turns 36 years old next month, hit .266/.345/.396 with 13 home runs and 76 RBI over 633 plate appearances with the Royals this past season. His offense has waned, owning an adjusted OPS of 84 since 2016 (100 is average), but he still plays decent defense.

Gordon has spent all 13 years of his major league career with the Royals. With the club in a rebuilding phase, he will serve as the clubhouse leader and be a mentor to younger players on the roster.