Royals sign Carlos Pena

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Released by the Astros on July 31, veteran first baseman Carlos Pena has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Royals.

Kansas City is obviously set at first base and designated hitter with Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler, but general manager Dayton Moore is apparently looking at Pena as a left-handed bench option for September.

Pena hit .209 with eight homers and a .674 OPS in 85 games for the Astros and hasn’t posted a batting average above .230 since 2008, but he can still draw tons of walks and smack the occasional extra-base hit. For now he’ll head to Triple-A and try to play his way into a September call-up.

Braves sign Marcell Ozuna to one-year, $18 million deal

Marcell Ozuna
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The Braves have announced on Tuesday evening the signing of free agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that it’s a one-year contract for $18 million.

Ozuna, 29, hit .241/.328/.472 with 29 home runs, 89 RBI, 80 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 549 plate appearances for the Cardinals last season. He’s been consistently above-average in each of the past four seasons, which also included a career year in 2017 in which he was worth 6.1 WAR, per Baseball Reference.

It is surprising that Ozuna, a two-time All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner, had to settle for a one-year deal. The Braves are happy he did as he will help make up for some of the offense lost when third baseman Josh Donaldson became a free agent and ultimately signed with the Twins. Ozuna can become a free agent again after the 2020 season but won’t have qualifying offer compensation attached to him, part of the reason why his market may have been slow to develop.

Along with Ozuna, the Braves have signed in free agency this offseason reliever Will Smith, starter Cole Hamels, and catcher Travis d'Arnaud. They re-signed relievers Chris Martin and Darren O'Day, catcher Tyler Flowers, infielder Adeiny Hechavarría, and outfielder Nick Markakis.