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According to Buster Olney, an “unknown team” has claimed Carlos Pena off waivers from the Cubs. Pena was placed on waivers on Monday (the first business day of the post-Jim Hendry era), with the expectation that he would easily clear, given the unusual structure of his contract, which pays him $5 million in January.

I’ll update you as more information becomes available, but I’m pretty surprised by this news. The only explanation I can come up with is the structure of Pena’s contract is even more complicated than we now know, and the team claiming him on waivers is somehow responsible only for the money he’s yet owed in 2011. Otherwise, it would make no sense to claim him, lest the Cubs simply say, “ok, here, you pay him in 2012.”

Recall, when a player is placed on waivers, other teams have the opportunity to “claim” him. Only one team is awarded the claim, however (going by ascending records, first in the players’ own league, and then the other league). At that point, the waiving team may elect to withdraw the waiver, let the claiming team take him and his contract, or work out a trade. The two teams have two business days to work out a trade, so we should know what’s going to happen by the end of the week.

It’s hard to speculate whether the Cubs will be able to work out a trade for Pena. On the one hand, any value they can get for an impending free agent – even if it’s just financial savings – is a good thing. On the other hand, if the Cubs are unable to land (or choose not to pursue) Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder in the offseason, Pena might be their best option at first base next year. Further, Pena is expected to be a Type B free agent who would net the Cubs a prospect if they kept him, offered him arbitration, and he chose to sign elsewhere. Of course, a draft pick costs money to sign, so if the Cubs can get a decent prospect in trade right now, they might be better off taking that route.

UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal says that Pena’s contract is such that the $5 million January payment would still be the Cubs’ obligation if Pena is traded via waivers (technically, they’d be obligated to the pro-rated, April to August portion of it). Why, I’m still not entirely sure. But there it is, and it explains why a team would be willing to claim Pena (it also explains why I removed the preamble “wow” from this post – it’s no longer quite as wow-able). Rosenthal thinks a deal is unlikely because the Cubs didn’t get much in the way of offers for Pena back in July.

UPDATE II: According to multiple reports, the Yankees are the team that claimed Pena, and they do want to try and work out a trade. They believe they can use Pena at DH. We’ll see where this goes.

  • Jeremy

    Care to take a guess at who could’ve claimed him?

    • Odd

      Probably Cleveland.

      • Jeremy

        That’s what Buster thinks

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      My instinct was Cleveland. Sounds like that’s been the guess of a number of people.

      • EQ

        Could the Angels be a player for him?

      • Andrew

        im guessing arizona. or even the giants since pat B the hero of last year is down.

        • Brian

          I’m leaning towards a national league team. I am not really sure why, I just do not see any AL teams being interested in him.

  • Andrew

    what happens if the cubs cant get pena, fielder, or pooholes?

    • Chris

      Trade market, play Brian LaHair or give in to the calls for Colvin to play first. Either way, we’re going to have either a AAAA or average bat/defense at first base (assuming we don’t retain Pena, or pick up Fielder or Pujols.)

      • EQ

        I think there could be options available.. maybe fewer HR’s but that can be made up for by having a decent average with runners in scoring position or a guy who at least hits .250. Pena’s killing us in those 2 categories.. he plays good defense and will hit 25 HRS but that’s about it.

        I personally think Fielder & Pujols will stay put.. Milwaukee winning might be enough to keep Fielder there and I can’t see Pujols in Chicago.

        • Chris

          Yeah, I think the Cardinals will posture and Pujols will too, but eventually they’ll just hand the keys to Busch Stadium to Pujols.

    • Sam

      Geo to first and then castillocan play catcher

  • Toosh

    Play a man short.

  • philoe beddoe

    somewhere I read that the Cubs are responsible for the 5 million in January regardless….that doesn’t seem right……

  • Matt Murton

    It’s Bryan LaHair time… It’s the ghost of Jim Hendry’s past trying to force Quade’s (apparently straight-jacketed) hands again.

  • MichiganGoat

    Completely meta but the Goat is now on twitter @MichiganGoat

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Noyce. Everyone should join Twitter. And then follow @BleacherNation.

      • Andrew

        @andrewmoo22

        way ahead of ya

    • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

      Oh, I am ALL OVER that, MG!

      • hardtop

        Doesn’t the world have enough twits?

        • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

          There’s always room for one more, hardtopper!

  • Andrew

    ive been reading places that we wont have soriano next year no matter what. talks of Aram not coming back pena being gone…… the cubs next year might not hit 50 home runs. and we already know they cant hit with people on base. yikesssss

  • Toosh

    Trade him to the Indians or let him test free agency after the season and let the new GM worry about 1B. It’s not the 2012 Cubs most pressing concern.

    • willis

      Bingo. 2012 is going to be as painful or worse than this year if nothing is done about pitching. So, who cares (unless they land Fielder or Pujols…unlikely) who is manning first? 2012 needs to be focused on building a pitching staff. Because what’s there now, and projected to be next year will give us about 60 wins.

  • willis

    The more I think about it I’d love a deal here. He does nothing for me (preparing for the OPSers and OBPers to come flying at me) other than his ok glove. I don’t believe he’s part of the future, and it would force the hand to make a serious run at Fielder or Pujols.

    .220 hitting 1Bs do nothing for me. He’s an RBI man with 63 or so RBIs.

    If a decent piece is offered you have to do it, right?

    • EQ

      Well we can’t rule much of anything out.. seriously.. a new, good GM can make some moves, pull off some trades, and really surprise us. the thing that keeps me optimistic is that we do have a top 5 payroll. it’s not like the new GM is working with a Pittsburgh or KC payroll, we can be decent next year if good, smart moves are made..

      I think a new GM could come in and view everyone except for Garza and Castro as tradeable. I say let Pena go, field offers for Byrd, get someone to take Soriano and Big Z off our hands, try to save 8-10 mill in payroll off them and pay the rest and we could have a good 50-60 mil off the books.. maybe a couple of savvy trades, a decent FA or 2, bring up Brett Jackson, hope for Colvin to rebound..etc. who knows?? wait until next year??

      • CubFan Paul

        sounds like a plan EQ

  • Fishin Phil

    I really like the Pena in the clubhouse and in the field. But his at-bats are starting to hurt my liver. Never play the take shot everytime Pena strikes out game.

  • pfk

    Apropos to nothing…good to see the McDonalds add on your site. I hope this is a finical success for you as I now go to it first thing when I go on line. I used to do the Trib or SI.com but now I go straight to BN. Its really well written, informative and entertaining.

    • ron

      and the article are generally short but informative.

    • CubFan Paul

      ..you got a McDonalds ad, i got a women’s plus size clothes ad that popped up on me! ..buy the $15 shirt & get a free necklace

      • hardtop

        i got mexican dog food…

        …i mean, a dog food ad in spanish.

        mcdonalds and mexican dog food taste the same

    • http://Bleachernation Bric

      Since we’re posting random thoughts, hey PFK- Whatever happened to Peter F. Kemp? It always made you sound more distinguished, like a duke or an earl or something. Just wondering.

      • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

        Dudes who post with just their initials are just cooler.

        • hardtop

          tasty white chocolate?

          that sounds like a hippie name to me.

          • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

            Dude, you have chocolate? Can I have some? I’m reeeeeeeeeeal hungry…

          • Jeff

            I thought he was the official rep for The Weather Channel.

            • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

              Spokesmodel, Jeffrey. Not ‘the rep’, but spokesmodel. There’s a difference, baby!

        • http://www.frenchrocks.net Ian Afterbirth

          Yes – initials are far better than an odd full name.

          • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

            I always thought your name was really “French”. Weird.

            • http://Bleachernation Bric

              Weather Channel- you now officially own the title of funniest commentor of random thoughts on B.N. because you understand the difference between neccesary and stupid abbreviations. Congrats!

              The neccesary kind are any time you don’t remember a player’s name (or can’t spell it) or you’re too hammered and cant’f focus enough to type everything out.

              The stupid kind are when you realize your post is way too long (like this one) or you’re living the internet life of a 17 year old girl. Enjoy your title, you earned it. By the way: WTDWHI? (What’s the deal with Hurricane Irene?)

              • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

                Derp.

            • http://www.frenchrocks.net Ian Afterbirth

              That’s odd because the name of my band is literally: French (www.frenchrocks.net – sorry for the cheap plug, Ace)

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                No need to apologize. Though, the site expresses a distaste for “corporate fascists,” of which I consider myself one… I kid. I eat food out of the garbage.

              • TWC

                Dude, I know all about your band; I’ve checked out your webpage from your username link. You’ve got some good stuff on there. You just need some more mandolin.

                • Fishin Phil

                  and a little more cow bell.

                  • TWC

                    You mocked me once, Phil. Never do it again! I *died* that day.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      Hey, you did the thing that Internet Random and I are talking about. Swoot.

                • http://www.frenchrocks.net Ian Afterbirth

                  Crap – now you probably have figured out I don’t really look like this all the time…

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Initials are where it’s at. So is signing your post.

        -B

        • MichiganGoat

          Cant believe I missed this exchange, priceless

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks, PFK. I don’t choose the ads (not those ones, anyway), but I, too, hope it portends good things.

  • Jeff

    I know how the arbitration process works and what it’s supposed to do, but I’m confused on something. Could someone please tell me how Josh Willingham projects as a type A free agent, while Carlos Pena barely qualifies as a type B? I have seen other head scratchers as well in the process, but I’ve never really seen the formula for how they determine some of the cases. Seriously John Grabow, LaTroy Hawkins, and Darren Oliver were all type A’s a couple of years ago, and none of them had been pitching all that well, does this have to do with what type of contract they sign or something else entirely?

  • alsecord

    let pena go, to many bad at bats late in the game with runners on. move castro to 3rd, barney to short, dj lamathieu up for 2nd and see what aram can do at 1st for the rest of the year. also leave campana in center, he can’t possibly give less resulte than byrd.

  • RY

    i would love to see st louis and mil keep both their guys at at least $25 mil per season, mortgage their futures on these guys and then laugh as the two beasts begin to break down, of course neither one of them will break down at the enormously fast rate that sorryano has!

  • Jeff

    Yankees are the team that claimed Pena. That means he passed through every team but them and Boston.

    • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

      Wow. Cashman’s already fucking up our trades and he isn’t even our GM yet. How exciting for us.

      • CubFan Paul

        fucking up? how? i say we pay the deferred $5mil and get a decent prospect

      • Jeff

        Either that or he’s getting ready to set himself up for the future. It would be awfully nice of him to trade the Cubs some top prospects, then turn around and take the Cubs job this offseason.

        • Fishin Phil

          I can’t believe he would do a thing like that….. but it sure would be nice!!

        • MichiganGoat

          It’s good to dream!

    • NL_Cubs

      The Yankees?! What the….?

  • http://needledink BusterBitchalot

    Yanks probably claimed him so that Red Sux couldn’t get him. They do this every year.Yanks or Sux claim players they don’t want the other team to get.

    • Jeff

      Nope. First, the Red Sox literally have no where to play him. Gonzalez at first, Ortiz at DH, Youkilis to back up both. The Yankees want him to DH according to Heyman and some others that I don’t think really matter.

  • Toosh

    This should be a no-brainer for the Cubs and they also have a front office that fits that description. You trade Pena to the Yankees for whatever they offer or just let them have him on waivers. He’s a FA after the season any way. Neither the Cubs nor the Yankees will offer him arbitration. So, if the new GM wants him back he can re-sign him. C’mon, Randy, show me you have some balls and not just a Bush.

  • marc

    this is what i dont get….carrie muskat just stated that pena is not going anywhere…why put him on waivers if you according to muskat ” hope to resign in the offseason”, just seems a waste of time…
    Is there a rule against trading someone on the last year of the contract and then the player resigning with the same time in the off season? I know its prevelent in basketball but never seen it in baseball…

    • MichiganGoat

      It’s rare to do a trade/resign type of thing. There was no risk to putting him on waivers, someone might have given up a prospect we think highly of but they have given up on. It was right thing to do, now it’s about whether resigning him makes sense. I say NO!

      • CubFan Paul

        even if we dont work out a trade with the Yanks we should still let him go to NY: they claimed him and if a deal isnt worked out we Don’t have to pull him back/keep him! let him go and the Yankees are on the hook for the $5million check due in January

        thats better than a trade for a meaningless prospect/PTBNL. saving another $5million on next year’s salary is the ultimate waiver deal/trade in my opinion ..Let HIM WALK

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