Carlos Pena is back in a Rays uniform. He had most of his best years with the team and now he’ll be back at first base for the Rays. He’ll make $7.25 million. It’s hard to believe he’s only 33 because it seems like he’s been around forever.
I like the one year deal because it makes it very low risk. His best season is a few years behind him when he had a 1.037 OPS in 2007 but he’s had an OPS+ over 120 in four of the past five seasons. Last year with the Cubs, he hit 28 home runs but like usual, he hit just .225. He did draw more then 100 walks for the second time in his career though.
Durability can be an issue but his 153 games last year were the most of his career. He usually good for around 140 games though so if he can produce, he’s good. His defense has diminished the past few years so we’ll see if he can continue to handle first base as well as he has in the past.
The Rays signed a couple of big names and one new Ray to one year deals to avoid going to the arbitration table with these players. B.J. Upton, David Price and Burke Badenhop all signed deals today.
B.J. Upton got the biggest pay day although he’s the furthers along in his MLB career. He’ll be paid $7 million. David Price will get $4.35 million and reliever Burke Badenhop will get just over one million. I like the Price deal a ton but I think that’s a little too much for Upton. Still, I’ll take it.
J.P. Howell signed yesterday so that leaves Jeff Niemann as the lone arbitration eligible player to sign.
The Rays bolstered their bullpen with a trade with the Marlins. They sent catcher Jake Jeffries and in exchange, they got Burke Bandenhop. I like Badenhop and he should do better then his numbers warrant because the Rays should give Badenhop a nice upgrade behind with their defense. He went 2-3 with a 4.10 ERA and he also threw some innings for the Marlins Triple-A affiliate in New Orleans. Badenhop is the last guy left from the megatrade in 2007 that sent Miguel Cabrera to Detroit.
Badenhop is arbitration eligible so his pay is TBD. Jeffries split time between Single-A and Double-A. He hasn’t shown a lot of power and he probably would have been no better as a backup for the Rays over the next few years.
The Rays locked up late season callup and top prospect Matt Moore to what will hopefully end up being an eight year deal. They get Moore for five years at $14 million and there club options for 2017, 2018 and 2019 that would up the overall amount of the deal to just under $40 million.
These deals always have their downsides but Moore is a potential stud. By the end of the five years, he could be a $25 million pitcher by then. The Rays are getting him in those last three option years for just $13 million a year and if Moore goes down to injury, then they don’t take the option. It also gives the team cost certainty and they’ve locked up a few of their stars in this way.
Right now, Moore is the MLB.com’s third best prospect. Mike Trout and Bryce Harper are the only guys ahead of him.
The Rays never really had a catching hole because they signed Jose Molina pretty quickly. They’ll pay him $1.5 million for another year and then there’s a club option for 2013 at another $1.5 million.
It’ll be interesting how much time Molina gets. He’s been used primarily as a backup for the better part of his career so my bet is he ends up splitting time with one of the younger backstops. Still, Molina is never going to win a batting title, but he hit .281 last year and he’s one of the best defenders in the game. I like the move because it’s low cost, just for a year and it frees up some much needed funds for some other spots where the Rays need help at.
The Rays traded catcher John Jaso to the Mariners for an infamous player to be named later (or cash consideration) as well as right handed pitcher Josh Lueke. This is a solid pickup because the Rays have some options at catcher and in exchange they get a younger right handed reliever. Lueke had a really nice second half of the season after a rough start. Still, this kid could be a keeper.
He’s got three solid pitches and he ended up on the PCL All Star Team last year. If you look at his second half when he got called back up to the Mariners, he had a 3.42 ERA in 17 appearances with a solid 21 to 7 strikeout to walk ratio. He’s probably not going to be a Major League all star, but he’s probably good enough to help round out the pen or make a reserve if someone goes down.
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