Notwithstanding the recent rash of articles suggesting Carlos Pena could return to the Cubs in 2012, there is no reason to believe the first baseman remains firmly on the trade block. He’s a free agent at the end of the year, he doesn’t have no-trade protection, he’s got a reasonable contract, and he’s actually producing.

But, perhaps for those very reasons, the Cubs’ asking price is apparently high for Pena.

Or, at least, too high for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The surprise NL Central competitor is looking to add a bat for the stretch run, and their primary target – Carlos Beltran – doesn’t sound interested in coming to Pittsburgh. The team’s pitching has been surprisingly good, but the offense remains weak. Without another bat, it remains likely that the Pirates will fade down the stretch.

This fact is not lost on Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington who has been working the phones to get a deal done, but isn’t having much luck.

Indeed, one of the teams on the other end of that phone was the Chicago Cubs. The subject? Carlos Pena.

Unfortunately for the Pirates (and perhaps the Cubs), a deal could not be reached. Speaking generically about failed trades, Huntington said yesterday, “[t]he acquisition cost is prohibitive at this time. One, you’ve got to have a player who, if he has a no-trade (clause), wants to come to your city. Two, the other team has to be willing to trade the players you express interest in. Three, you’ve got to find a match in value. We’ve run into roadblocks at just about every step of the way.”

Naturally, Huntington was speaking about more than a mere failed Carlos Pena trade, but it certainly suggests that the Cubs’ asking price for Pena has been high. Given that he, unlike some other impending free agents, could actually net the Cubs a draft pick at the end of the year, keeping the price a bit high makes some sense.

But I do wonder if Huntington might be hoping to land a player on the cheap – at least prospect-wise. Earlier this month, there were reports that the Pirates were hoping to add players as salary dumps, rather than giving up some of their better prospects. For a team like the Cubs, that might be mana from heaven – depending on the player. But unlike Alfonso Soriano, for example, Carlos Pena has real value. The Cubs absolutely should not dump him just to avoid some future salary obligations.

Of course, prices have a way of changing in the week leading up to the deadline, so we’ll see where things stand in a few days.

  • Joe Cartwright

    Too bad the Pirates aren’t an AL team.

  • hardtop

    “The Cubs absolutely should not dump him just to avoid some future salary obligations.”

    agreed. and if i were the pirates, and i overbay playing first, i’d be willing to give up something pretty tasty to get pena. we all know what the first baseman market looks like, and this is their best chance at doing somethig they need to get done this year.

    that being said, if the cubs win their next 9 or 10 straight, they could be in contention for division title and they may want to hold on to Carlos….bwahhhahahaha :)

  • sedgy145

    If only they could play Houston the rest of the season…

  • CBP

    I say keep the say high value + b- prospect offer and let’s just throw in a Soriano and eat 56 million then I think the Pirates could accept. Then I would say use that 8 million + you gain on that deal and sign Berkman for a 1 year 8 million

  • Andy

    Berkman is making 8 million this year and has put up All-Star numbers. The bidding for him will probably start at around 2 years and $15+ million.

  • RTI

    From someone’s mom’s basement, complete with whiteboard:

  • CBP

    I wouldn’t mind trading Pena to Arizona though!! I think we could land some good value.

    • RoughRiider

      Local Phoenix sports is saying the Diamondbacks have no interest in Pena.

  • Jeff

    I was reading reports a couple of weeks ago that suggested that the Pirates were looking to get Pena for next to nothing as a salary dump. I thought it was ridiculous then, and it’s even more ridiculous the closer we get to the deadline. He’s only due about 2 million for the rest of the year. I’m pretty sure the Cubs are on the hook for the 5 million next year, even if he gets traded. You could make a strong argument that he’s the best FA first baseman next year not named Prince or Pujols. There is no way that he should be traded for anything less than first round draft pick type talent, he’s worth at least that much through the arbitration process.

  • hardtop

    has anyone every looked at the wikipedia page for hendry? the title is Jim “Donuts” Hendry. i love it! donuts!

    He’s also has a definition in urban dictionary. He might be the most well known GM in all of sports, mostly for sucking the last 8 plus years… Brian cashman is not in the urban dictionary.

    • Brett

      Ouch. That urban dictionary definition is harsh –

      • TWC

        That might be the only Urban Dictionary definition I’ve ever read that didn’t involve defecation, intercourse, or — more commonly — both.

        • hardtop

          well, cow feces were mentioned…

          • TWC

            and appropriately so, I might suggest.

  • Grandpa Dave

    Sammy Sosa will ever be in the Hall of Fame, nor should he be. He disgraced the game.

  • Sadface

    MLB Tonight on the MLB Network Channel… Kevin Millar and Mike Lowell were both talking about how the Angels need an RBI guy. Millar brings up Aramis, the host reminds him that Aramis doesn’t want to be traded. Lowell and Millar both proceeded to rip apart Ramirez for not wanting to play for a contender and just worrying about money. What a bum… It’s no coincidence that the Cubs haven’t been successful with him at the hot corner.

  • http://BleacherNation Ramy16

    Sadface he wants to win as you blame him?..I don’t ..he wants to retire a cub..the last known Cub players I know that spent there retire career with the Cubs were hof Sandberg, Banks, Santo

    • TWC

      Well, except for the first 33% of his career that was spent in the Pirates organization, yeah, ARam’s been a Cub all his lifeā€¦ (*sigh*).

    • hardtop

      ramy, not to rub dirt in the wound TWC has exposed, but Sandberg was drafted by and came up with the philies, a half dozen games or so if i recall but definitely played for the phils before being traded to the cubs with bowa for who? yep, mr. “send them when there is no chance of scoring” ivan of the jesus… so maybe another list of die hard cubbies for life?

      wasnt santo traded to the sox?

      anyway, i get your point. im not sure i buy it, but i like the idea.

      • TWC

        You’re right, HT, I was just trying to give Ramy the benefit of the doubt. Santo played his last year (’73) with the Sox before retiring. And yes, Ryno was a Phil for a full baker’s dozen years, I think. I’m mostly not sure that I believe that Aramis is (or wants to be) a Cub for life, no matter how much Ramy16 may protest.

  • Sadface

    Trust me, I’m all for being a Cub for life. But as far as winning with the Cubs is concerned… We’re in 6th place. Go to the contender. The most important thing in the game of baseball (all sports really) is competition. To be complacent- a word that I think very well defines Ramirez’s past few years with the organization- is to waste a spot for someone who would compete the way that anyone who truly loves sports could appreciate. Let’s face it. He’s shown up to Spring Training out of shape, out of rhythm, and out of gas the past few years. Some of that can be attributed to aging, but Chipper Jones still gives his full effort every day. Watch Evan Longoria play a game, and watch Aramis play. Heck, watch Michael Martinez and compare him to Rammy. Those are guys who play the game passionately. Though I love the numbers Rammy has put up the past few years, he’s just not the type of player that the Cubs should look to build around. What kind of role model is that?

    • Brett

      Eh hem – the Cubs are in fifth place. :)

  • http://BleacherNation Ramy16

    Ya look at chipper jones..he’s washed up..the only difference is that he came to the braves in 1990..aramis still has a chance to pass him on the home run guys should give him the benefit of the doubt..thanks TWC for your comment was surprised

  • http://BleacherNation Ramy16

    On another note I know Carlos Pena ain’t actually hitting above .250..but he’s pretty much done what Cubs asked him to do! I like his glove and attitude..great club house player .. mind seeing him back with the Cubs

  • ottocub

    I’d like to see the Cubs sign Pena after this year. The first base market is really slim, as is the Cubs farm system at this position. Pena would be a great veteran to have on the team during re-building years – his attitude and work-ethic is strong and he’s played for a World Series team. He would bring leadership and experience to a young team.