With spring training less than 2 months away, the Tampa Bay Rays have added another veteran bat to their lineup. Carlos Pena recently signed with the Rays, giving Tampa another left handed bat to boost their lineup. He’s taking a bit of a paycut, as Pena agreed to a deal worth $7.25M for one year.
Pena had a solid rebound season with the Cubs, hitting 225/357/462 with 28 home runs and 80 runs driven in with just 500 under PA. More importantly, Pena showed he could still crush right handed pitching, coming in with a very impressive 892 OPS. Hopefully the Rays will decide to platoon Pena, as he is extremely ineffective against left handed pitching.
With the additions of Luke Scott and Pena, the Rays have added two veteran bats who can easily replace the production of Casey Kotchman and Johnny Damon. While Damon and Kotchman are more likely to hit for a higher average, Pena and Scott should provide the Rays with better on base skills and more importantly more power. This should lead to much better production from their 1B and DH. Last year only Longoria hit more than 25 home runs, and there’s a good chance that both Scott and Pena could do that in 2012.
The Rays ranked 8th in runs scored last season at 707, and the additions of Pena and Scott should make them one of the top 4 offences in the AL. This would give the Rays very good odds of making their 5th playoff appearance in 6 years, as their pitching ranks amongst the best in the AL.
Pena was one of the best hitters available in free agency, and the Rays were able to sign him at a discounted price. It’s a fantastic deal, and it gives the Rays a legitimate option for first base this season.