Carlos Pena, 32, and the Chicago Cubs have finally consummated the rumors and worked out a one year deal worth $10 million.
It's a little more than Pena was projected to get and a little more than the Cubs were expected to have, so the deal is a little confusing on both counts.
With the deal finalized, the Cubs fill a large void at first base.
Though some fans will look quickly to Pena's admittedly very frightening .196 batting average in 2010, either way, Pena was a quite productive offensive guy as recently as 2008 and 2009. He was also a legitimate MVP-candidate in 2007, although that doesn't realistically look replicable.
His down 2010 was fueled by a few things. Particularly, his batting average on balls in play was uncharacteristically low and should rebound simply because he can't be that unlucky again.
In 2008, he hit 31 home runs with an .871 OPS. In 2009, he hit 39 home runs with an .893 OPS. Both are rock-solid for a middle-of-the-order bopper.
With Carlos joining the NL, and playing 81 games in the home run-friendly confines of Wrigley Field, look for him to hit 30 to 35 home runs while leading the Cubs in walks and runs batted in in 2011. It may not be enough to earn a playoff spot for his team, but Pena's possible upside is not to be ignored.
His defense, albeit overrated by almost everyone, is average at worst.
Much like his offensive game, it does have serious upside. Being reasonable, you shouldn't expect it to be awe-inspiring, but he will most certainly get the job done.
Either way, the Cubs have their big man to replace Derrek Lee's defensive presence. Young Starlin Castro can be content in having Pena, at least.
All in all, the Cubs could have very easily missed out on any of the first base options and gone into 2011 with extremely limited hope.
At least now they have a legitimate presence in the lineup and on the field. Cubs fans just need to hope he plays up to his abilities.
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