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Transaction Recap: Rays Add Carlos Pena to 1B Glut

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My final "Transaction Recap" catch up piece on the roster moves this week

Transaction Recap 1/24/07

The Move-First Baseman Carlos Pena and the Rays agreed to terms on a one year minor league contract with a spring training invite for the upcoming season; terms were not disclosed.

My (Not So) Humble Opinion

While at first, one's reaction to this signing may be something along the lines of 'Gee, how many first baseman do you need?', consider that this move really doesn't have a way of going bad for us.

Pena
Unlike the decision to give Scott Dohmann a major league contract, we aren't contractually obligated to give Carlos Pena anything. Not a roster spot, and presumably not a lot of money, especially if he doesn't make the final roster, and considering the fact that Pena and past 1B signee Hee Seop Choi both hit only right-handers well, it is likely that at least one of them will not make the final cut.

It is certainly peculiar that the Rays keep adding first baseman to the stockpile, but that isn't necessarily a bad move, considering that these investments carry absolutely no risk whatsoever and aren't really a waste of time, as both Pena and Choi have track records of being productive major league players. It would be one thing if this move were coming in lieu of an investment in pitching, but its not because these deals are small, number one, and there is also really no pitcher left that, for their price, we would want to make a run at in free agency. That is, unless you can convince Brad Radke to go against everything he has said to lure him out of retirement, and the prospects of that happening are at "pie in the sky" levels.

So while some fans may look at the glut of minor league contracts extended out, look at the lack of pitchers signed, and say that the Rays are prioritizing signing a ton of first baseman over the prospect of signing some pitching, this simply is not the case. Peculiar as the move may be, Pena's .243/.331/.459 career batting line is something that I personally would like to have in stock, with the no-strings-attached obligations that a minor league contract brings. You can complain independently all you want about the lack of signings this offseason, and if you are speaking of the Octavio Dotel and David Riske signings specifically, I agree with you. However this move is completely separate from both, and should be treated as what it is individually-a good, low-risk signing.