With the Chicago Cubs’ first trade of the year nearing completion (Fukudome to the Indians), it’s time to move on to the next possible deal. While I do believe Carlos Zambrano’s time in Chicago is likely up – if not now, then at the end of the season – the next most likely Cub to be moved could be first baseman Carlos Pena. Rumors about Pena have been chugging along for weeks, and they aren’t showing signs of slowing up before Sunday’s non-waiver trade deadline.
According to Bruce Levine, the Pittsburgh Pirates – who were previously rebuffed in an effort to acquire Pena – have been scouting the slugger for a month. Though he’s been slumping of late, Pena could provide some thump in the middle of an otherwise thin Pirate lineup.
Perhaps as interesting as the reported scouting by the Pirates, Levine says that Pena’s contract payments – he’s on a one-year, $10 million deal – are structured differently than everyone has been reporting. Instead of making $5 million during the season and then a $5 million payment in January, Levine says Pena received $3 million after signing with the Cubs in December, is receiving $4 million this year, and then gets another $3 million in January. If true, that makes Pena slightly easier to trade now, but also makes it ever so slightly more likely that he’s claimed on waivers in August (which could hamper the Cubs’ efforts to deal him then).
Jon Heyman cautions that the Cubs might have a hard time finding a taker for Pena, despite his productivity. In particular, Heyman points out the general lack of teams looking to add a first baseman. Other than the Pirates, Heyman mentions that the Diamondbacks continue to look at Pena, but are concerned about his ever-increasing strikeout totals.
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