Update: Ex-Ray Pena signs with Astros, calls it a "new beginning"

17

December

Update 9:04 p.m. Pena, it would appear, will be the Astros first-ever designated hitter, as they move into the American League West next year.

Pena, who agreed to a one-year, $2.9 million deal with $1.4 million in incentives, believes he has a lot to improve on from last year's struggles with the Rays, but says joining Houston is a "new beginning."

"This was my most attractive option," Pena said in an introductory news conference. "It re-energizes me. It's a new beginning, they're a young team. We have a new staff. We have new colors in the uniforms. Everything is so fresh, so I wanted to be part of that. When the Astros expressed interest, I immediately lit up. The pursuit on both ends -- I thought it was persistent. We wanted to make something happen. It was attractive to me immediately."

"I have so many years ahead of me," Pena said. "I feel I have so much to give."

Pena hit just .197 with 19 homers for Tampa Bay last season, but doesn't think this is the end of the line.

"I have so many years ahead of me," Pena said. "I feel I have so much to give."

And Pena seemed intrigued by the chance to rebuild the 107-loss Astros.

"It was inviting to me," Pena said. "I've had experiences on teams [Tampa Bay] where we were thought to be the worst in baseball. Then very quickly we were in the World Series."
 

Developing: It appears Carlos Pena's second stint with the Rays is officially over.

But Pena is staying in the American League.

Pena has agreed to terms with the Astros, according to CBSsportsline's Danny Knobler, who reports the former Gold Glove first baseman will make $2.9 million with another $1.4 million in incentives. Knobler writes Pena is expected to share the first base and DH roles with Brett Wallace.

It seemed likely that Pena would not return to Tampa Bay after last season, when he hit just .197 with 19 homers while making $7.25 million. Then the Rays signed free agent 1B James Loney during the winter meetings to a 1-year, $2 million deal.

The Astros, which move into the AL West this coming season, will face the Rays twice in July, in Houston on July 1-4, and at Tropicana Field July 12-14.

Pena should receive a nice ovation from the Trop crowd in that homecoming, as despite his struggles last season, he's still the franchise leader in home runs and has been a fan favorite, helping lead the team in it's turnaround in 2008.

As for how it impacts the Rays, Pena signing with Houston likely makes it a better chance 1B/DH Lance Berkman looks at Tampa Bay. Berkman, 37, a six-time All-Star, said in November there were four teams interested, including the Rays and Astros.

-- JOE SMITH
joesmith@tampabay.com

 

[Last modified: Monday, December 17, 2012 10:28pm]

    

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