For reasons unknown at the time (and, I suppose, still unknown) Chicago Cubs’ first baseman Carlos Pena had not been put on waivers as of last week. Short of being placed on waivers, the Cubs could not trade Pena, who is a free agent at the end of the year.
According to Ken Rosenthal, that just changed, as Pena has now been placed on waivers.
Recall, the fact that Pena has been placed on waivers doesn’t, alone, mean much of anything. If Pena goes unclaimed – likely, given the $5 million payment he’s owed in January – the Cubs will be free to trade him for the rest of the season. If no good offer comes, the Cubs can hang onto Pena as a hedge against not landing one of the top two free agent first basemen in the offseason (Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder). They could also offer him arbitration, and collect a compensatory pick should he bolt. In sum, placing him on waivers does not necessarily mean the Cubs are eager to trade him.
But the timing is certainly interesting.
What changed between last week and this week? Well, there’s the obvious: Jim Hendry was officially removed as GM. But Hendry admitted that the reason he hadn’t traded guys like Pena was because he and Ricketts felt the next GM might want to keep those kind of players. Is that not still true? Does interim GM Randy Bush have a different view of how to best prepare the team for the next GM? Are the Cubs simply doing what teams always do with 90% of their players in August?
I can’t answer any of these questions with certainty. All I can say for sure is that Ken Rosenthal says Carlos Pena is finally on waivers, and Jim Hendry is no longer the Cubs’ GM. Any dots you’d like to connect from those two facts are your own.