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I’ve left it open as a possible explanation for the lack of movement today, but it looks like it could be possible that the reason the Chicago Cubs are keeping Carlos Pena – and telling other teams they’re doing so – is because the offers they’ve received on him weren’t worthwhile.

According to Phil Rogers (info received secondhand via Josh Timmers of BCB), the primary reason the Cubs haven’t dealt Carlos Pena is because they haven’t received an offer they deemed worth more than the draft pick compensation they might receive for him after the season should he leave in free agency.

Of course, there are at least three flaws with this theory, which would make this purported approach by the Cubs incredibly risky.

First, to get compensation, Pena has to qualify at least as a Type B free agent, something that is some measure of doubt. At the last check (the Elias Bureau generates the rankings, which aren’t made public until after the season, so various folks try to estimate), Pena was likely to be just outside the Type B range. He might qualify with a good August and September, but it’s no sure thing. If he does qualify, the Cubs could get a supplemental first round pick for him if he departs.

Second, however, the Cubs would first have to offer arbitration to Pena. That means they’d have to chance him accepting (and he might – it’s not a multiyear deal, but he’d likely get $10+ million in arbitration), and not be able to aggressively pursue other free agents like Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder.

Third, draft picks – while nice to have – cost money to sign. Players you receive in trade, however, have already been inked to a signing bonus, footed by someone else. It’s not usually more than $1 million or $2 million, but it matters.

I’m not sure we’ll ever know precisely the offers the Cubs received on Pena, but playing the draft pick compensation game on a guy like Pena is a risk the Cubs probably shouldn’t take. If they’ve got a bird in hand, leave those two in the bush.

  • Joe Cartwright

    Dang, Ace! I’m not sure if it’s the sleep deprivation or not, but that was a nice phrase to end it on!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Even in my barely-conscious state, I can turn a phrase or two (and rapidly, I might add: from learning of Rogers’ comment to post was about four minutes).

  • Toosh

    Fire Hendry today. Give the new GM the rest of this season to evaluate. Let him make any moves going forward.

  • http://wwwbookdiplomacy.blogspot.com M. Ryan G

    I don’t know about anyone else, but i’d love to hear The Cubs define worthwhile for us.

  • TSB

    Some of the Cub fans think that Pujols (or Fielder) is almost a lock to be in a Cub uniform next year. But what if he isn’t? What do we have to play 1B is there is no Pujols, Fielder, or Pena? Remember this:
    The Cubs will be competing against the a half a dozen or more teams that want a first base man.

    Why would Pujols want to play for the Cubs? A mature star, going to a team that is at best “rebuilding”, or at worst, a team going no where.

    If the Cubs make him an offer that blasts all the competition out of the water, who protects Pujols in the line-up? Who bats in front or in back of Pujols that the opposing pitchers won’t want to pitch to ? Sure, we can get a free agent, but with what money? After Pujols, there won’t be much money left for a top quality FA for a bat. Trade: as the current crop of Cub bats (Ramirez, Soto, etc. are as bad as some fans say they are, than what are we going to get for them?)

    OK, so it’s either the Cubs go into a full rebuild for the next two seasons or they try and compete in the next two seasons. The former, how many fans will stop going to Cub games, and the latter, how do you compete, with no pitching, and no power bats in the lineup except for the great Albert?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      All useful thoughts. I think most of us who are frustrated see retaining Pena as a bad sign re: the pursuit of Fielder/Pujols or even a younger first baseman in trade. The question is: how useful has Pena really been this year? Guys tend not to just “get better” in their mid-30s, so how useful would he really be in 2012? I’d rather the Cubs dealt him, and took their chances.

      • TSB

        Obviously Pena is not the guy to build the middle of the order around. He is a 5th or 6th place hitter. If the Cubs want a big 3,4 hitter, by trade or by free agency, find an outfielder. The Cub outfield has not carried it’s weight.

  • Toosh

    The Cards will never let Pujols leave. Fielder would be an upgrade, though I’d like to see him re-sign with the Brew Crew.

  • http://wwwbookdiplomacy.blogspot.com M. Ryan G

    Any Cubs fan who automatically assumes it’s Feilder at first next year could be setting themselves up for a monumental disappointment.

  • http://BleacherNation Ramy16

    Personally sign Pena and Ramirez and use the money to sign pitching and bull pen..remember pitching wins game

    • 1060Ivy

      As the Cubs offense has proven the last couple of years to be reliable and consistent.

      Yeah, the pitching sucks this year but the Cubs ability to produce with runners in scoring position is a multi-year issue.

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