The Rays are facing a ton of off-season questions and one of the biggest questions is first base and the status of Carlos Pena. The question is simple, can and should the Rays resign the veteran slugger and beloved player? It is not a very simple answer due to several problems and all of them will weigh in the minds of the ownership as they decide how they will spend their limited money.
Carlos Pena made $10 million last season and had one of his worst statistical seasons of his career. Pena hit a hair above .200 all season long, had a low home run total (not even over 30 like he is use to) and was injured for a large part of the season. Pena became a two option player, home run or strike out and seemed to strike out more than ever. Pena is over age 30 now and is slowing down a bit, his swing is not as quick as it use to be and he does not go to the opposite side of the field anymore it seems. Pena is still a gold glove caliber first baseman though. He has great range and is a sure glove for the pitcher and turning double plays. But with a limited bat, injuries piling up, is bringing Pena back even an option?
Freidman and Sternberg have said they have about $10 million to spend on free agent players, meaning they will be beyond selective is choosing who they sign. Pena has said he would love to stay a Ray for his career and the fans love Pena (he has his own toothbrush holder in the Rays catalog). If they did sign him, they would have to offer Pena a deal that would be roughly two years and $10 million, $5 million per year. Pena might take the pay cut, there are few teams that want to take on a struggling power hitter that is over 30 and no longer the big home run threat he use to be. But will Pena take it and can the Rays lineup take him back after he struggled so much all season?
I believe that the Rays will bring Pena back. The Rays organization loves Pena and he loves them. They need a veteran presence and bat in the lineup and with what money they have, he might be their best option (they are not going to sign someone like Paul Konerko or David Ortiz). It is still uncertain, but the Rays may make the move soon.