Jon Heyman of CBS Sports is reporting that the Tampa Bay Rays have agreed to terms with free agent slugger and former Detroit Tiger Carlos Pena. Heyman says the deal is worth about $7.25 million for one year (Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times confirms). This leaves Detroit with one less option to replace the void left in their lineup by their injured designated hitter, Victor Martinez.
Pena was actually one of the more realistic targets for the Tigers, his left-handed power bat a good fit to split the role of protecting Miguel Cabrera with Delmon Young or Ryan Raburn. Many fans, in fact, thought Pena, who once hit the longest home run in Comerica Park history (461 feet and over the right-center field wall), was actually the best fit for the club on the free agent market.
His low average and strikeout totals are alarming, but Pena probably featured the best combination of on-base ability and power available outside of Prince Fielder, who is out of the question for Detroit for a myriad of reasons.
A Scott Boras client, it was always likely that Pena would come a bit overpriced despite the current market being loaded, to some extent, with 1B/DH types. Obviously, the Tigers could not offer him a full-time first base job as the Rays evidently have.
Casey Kotchman, the Rays’ 2011 first baseman, is now all but forced to look for a job elsewhere. He’s another option for Detroit, but is coming off a breakout year so at 29 years old, he’ll probably look to cash in on a long-term deal with a team looking for a first baseman. MLB Trade Rumors mentions the Cleveland Indians as a possible destination.
The Tigers will likely take some time to address this situation, and if they don’t win the bidding for Yoenis Cespedes, we’ll probably see them snatch up a bargain just before the season, when players will be desperate to sign at any price.