Chicago Cubs Sign 1B Carlos Pena: 1 Yr, $10 Million

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carlos pena

The Chicago Cubs and first baseman Carlos Pena today agreed to terms on a one-year contract.  Reportedly for $10 million.

Pena, 32, has averaged 36 home runs and 102 RBI in each of the last four seasons since becoming a regular starter with the Tampa Bay Rays beginning with the 2007 campaign.  With 144 home runs and 404 RBI as a first baseman the last four years, Pena ranks fourth in home runs and sixth in RBI in that span among all first basemen.  His average of one home run per 13.20 at-bats the last four years leads all major league first basemen while his one RBI per 4.71 at-bats (trailing only Ryan Howard) and his one walk per 6.39 plate appearances each rank second among all major league first basemen since the start of the 2007 campaign.

The 2007 Silver Slugger Award Winner, 2008 Gold Glove Award Winner and 2009 All-Star led the American League in home runs (with Mark Teixeira) with 39 in 2009.  Pena finished in the Top 10 in American League MVP voting in 2007 and 2008, ranked second in the American League with a career-high 46 home runs in 2007 and led all league first basemen with a .998 fielding percentage in 2008.  He has a career .994 fielding percentage at first base.

Since the start of the 2007 season, Pena has turned in a .368 on-base percentage, 130 points above his .238 batting average in that span thanks to an average of 93 walks per campaign.  In 2007, Pena batted .282 (138-for-490) with 29 doubles, 46 home runs, 121 RBI, 103 walks, a .411 on-base percentage, a .627 slugging percentage and a 1.037 OPS in 148 regular season games for Tampa Bay that season, setting a career high in nearly every offensive category.

Pena helped lead the Rays to a World Series appearance in 2008 after batting .247 (121-for-490) with 24 doubles, 31 home runs, 102 RBI, 96 walks and a .377 on-base percentage in 139 games.  He made it three seasons in a row with at least 30 home runs, 100 RBI and 24 doubles in 2009, leading the league in home runs with Mark Teixeira (39) despite playing in 135 games, his fewest games played in a season as a Ray.

In 2010, Pena was limited to 144 games and recorded a .196 batting average after battling plantar fascia in his right foot that included a stint on the 15-day disabled list in August.  Despite his injury, Pena reached 28 home runs, 84 RBI and 87 walks, one of only seven players in all of baseball to reach those totals, the only player to do so in less than 150 games played.  Jose Bautista, Adrian Gonzalez, Albert Pujols, Mark Teixeira, Miguel Cabrera and Joey Votto were the only other major league players to reach those production totals in the 2010 season.

Pena was originally selected by the Texas Rangers in the first round (10th overall) of the 1998 Draft out of Northeastern University in Boston .  He made his major league debut with the Rangers in 2001 and has also appeared in the big leagues for the Oakland Athletics (2002), Detroit Tigers (2002-05), Boston Red Sox (2006) and the Tampa Bay Rays of course (2007-10).

The six-foot-two, 225-pound Pena is a career .241 hitter (871-for-3620) with 171 doubles, 20 triples, 230 home runs, 650 RBI, 582 walks, a .351 on-base percentage (110 points higher than his batting average) and a .490 slugging percentage in 1,073 major league games.  A native of Santo Domingo , Dominican Republic , Pena went to Haverhill (MA) High School prior to starring at Northeastern.

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