Pena to Cubs Makes Sense for Both

December 8, 2010 at 5:04 pm 1 comment

Carlos Pena

The Chicago Cubs have signed firstbaseman Carlos Pena to a one year deal worth $10M.  Pena, coming off his worst season as a Ray, was worth only 1 Win Above Replacement (fWAR) last year, or, roughly, $4M.  Pena has been in a steady decline phase since his breakout year in Tampa Bay in 2007.  Take a look:

 Year  fWAR  AVG  OBP  SLG   OPS+   BB%   wOBA 
 2007  6.2  .282  .411  .627   172  16.8  .430
 2008  4.0  .247  .377  .494  129  15.8  .374
 2009  2.8  .227  .356  .537  133  15.3  .374
 2010  1.0  .196  .325  .407  102  14.9  .326

That is some serious decline in every category from 2007-2010.  So, why did the Cubs give Pena a $10M deal?  I have a few reasons why.

One reason is that the combination of Wrigley Field, getting out of the AL East, and hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo can help Pena get his bat back on track.

Another reason is that the Cubs were targeting a good defensive firstbaseman.  Pena fits the mold.  The addition of Pena will help rangy youngster Starlin Castro turn more of his errant throws into outs.

The last reason is that Pena has a ton of “intangible” value thanks to his clubhouse leadership and positive demeanor both on the field and off.

The Cubs still have holes all over their roster.  The addition of Pena does not make them playoff favorites in 2011 but it does give the Cubs a player that will help the younger players mature, give Pena the best opportunity to find his swing, and hopefully give the Cubs a draft pick or two when/if Pena leaves via free agency after the 2011 season.

Although $10M is a risk, I believe we will see a version of Carlos Pena that will justify his 2011 contract and allow him to hit the market next offseason with even better hopes of a multi-year deal, making this deal a win-win for him and the Cubs.

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