The Indians have been in on numerous free agent talks, including Josh Willingham and Carlos Beltran, to whom the Indians made an offer that was reportedly close to the two-year $26 million contract that Beltran signed with the Cardinals.
The Tribe seeks to fill holes in left field and at first base. Current first base options for the Indians include Matt Laporta, Shelley Duncan and Carlos Santana. LaPorta and Duncan are both right-handed hitters while Santana is a switch-hitter.
The Tribe is in need of a right-handed bat with power to offset the decidedly left-handed heavy Tribe lineup. A projected starting lineup could already consist of as many as five left-handed hitters in Jason Kipnis at second base, Lonnie Chisenhall or Jack Hannahan at third base (both lefties), Michael Brantley in left field, Grady Sizemore in center field and Shin-Soo Choo in right field. The Indians' best designated hitter, Travis Hafner, is also left-handed.
The addition of Pena (who is terrible against southpaws) to the Tribe would necessitate a platoon situation where either Santana, LaPorta or Duncan would play first against left-handed pitching while Lou Marson, a right-handed bat, would assume catching duties.
Against righties, Pena had an OPS of .892, slugged 21 of his 28 home runs, and had 61 of his 80 runs batted in. Against lefties his numbers ( .593 OPS, 7 HR, 18 RBI ) plummeted in 120 at-bats. Comparatively, Santana ( .964 OPS, 5 HR, 25 RBI ), LaPorta (.596 OPS, 1 HR, 9 RBI ) and Duncan ( .679 OPS, 1 HR, 18 RBI ) had varying degrees of success.
Looking at those numbers, if Pena is added, LaPorta could be the odd-man out since Pena would be playing against righties.
Even though Progressive Field is known more as a pitchers' park, the right field stands are very inviting to power-hitting left-handed hitters.
Pena is known as a solid defender and won a Gold Glove award in 2008. He would be a significant defensive improvement over the Tribe's current first base options which would be key on a Tribe staff that will get a lot of ground-ball outs.
Pena made just under $10 million in 2011 with the Chicago Cubs. Considering the offer the Tribe made to Beltran, Pena could be attainable, although they would most likely offer a smaller figure based on the fact that Pena would not be playing against lefties.
We have heard "the Indians are interested in" so-and-so already this offseason. Hopefully, The Indians can get a deal done.
Pena is not an ideal candidate, but I think he could help the Indians in 2012.