Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rays re-sign first baseman Carlos Peña

Carlos Peña was welcomed back to the Rays on Friday and several teammates expressed excitement at his return.

DIRK SHADD | Times (2010)

Carlos Peña was welcomed back to the Rays on Friday and several teammates expressed excitement at his return.

ST. PETERSBURG — Carlos Peña can be a loquacious and inspirational speaker, but on Friday he needed only two words — well, and five exclamation points — in a text message to convey how he felt about returning to the Rays:

"Sooooo excited ... !!!!!"

Peña is headed back after agreeing to terms on a one-year, $7.25 million contract that is expected to be officially announced — and thoroughly discussed — after his physical exam on Tuesday.

The deal is the second step, following last week's signing of DH Luke Scott, of what the Rays project to be a significant upgrade of their offense.

Peña averaged 36 homers and 102 RBIs during his 2007-10 stint with the Rays, while playing stellar defense and providing clubhouse leadership, and both he and the team would welcome a repeat performance.

"I'm pumped he's back," pitcher David Price said. "Great guy on the field but even better in the clubhouse. Hopefully he can do what he's done the last five years and hit a ton of homers for us. And he's a stud on D, too."

Peña, 33, was among the high-salaried players who left the Rays after the 2010 season, signing a one-year, $10 million deal with the Cubs (and hitting 28 homers), but saying the Rays were special to him and he hoped to return one day.

The opportunity presented itself as the Rays sought to improve an offense that finished eighth in the American League (and last among East teams) in runs while not diminishing their baseball-best defense. And they were willing to spend to do so, their payroll increased about 50 percent to about $63 million from last season's $41 million.

Scott replaced Johnny Damon, and now Peña has done so to Casey Kotchman, the St. Petersburg native and Seminole High product who had an impressive bounceback season in 2011, hitting .306, though with only 10 homers and 48 RBIs.

In a text message Kotchman said: "I had fun playing with my AWESOME teammates at home in front of my friends and family!" The Indians are said to be interested.

The Peña package includes a low batting average and high number of strikeouts (.238, and an average of 157 during four seasons in Tampa Bay), but the Rays were obviously more interested in the power potential.

With Peña and Scott the Rays have a deep and balanced lineup that features at least six hitters capable of 20-plus homers — also Matt Joyce, Evan Longoria, B.J. Upton and Ben Zobrist — and potentially a seventh, as Desmond Jennings hit 10 in 63 games as a rookie last season. There are still concerns at shortstop, where Reid Brignac and Sean Rodriguez will compete, and catcher, where Jose Molina is the only experienced player.

"The lineup is shaping up pretty nicely," Longoria said.

"It's looking pretty good," pitcher James Shields said. "I'm excited. Carlos is awesome. He's a leader. He's got a great attitude and brings it every day. We need that in our clubhouse. We need guys like that in our clubhouse."

Peña resuscitated his career when he came to the Rays in 2007 on a minor-league contract, having been released by Detroit the previous spring and spending most of 2006 in the minors. He hit 46 homers and drove in 121 runs (with a .282 average) in 2007 and finished ninth in the AL MVP voting, won a Gold Glove while hitting 31 in 2008 and made the All-Star team in 2009 on the way to hitting 39. He dropped off to 28 homers — with 84 RBIs and a .196 average — in 2010.

He also has a large impact in the clubhouse, where he provides a perpetually positive attitude and bilingual leadership on a daily basis and has delivered several impassioned speeches, most famously before Game 7 of the 2008 ALCS against Boston.

"Carlos was a part of the Rays family and everyone knows what kind of guy he is," Shields said. "He's a really good teammate, a really good guy to have."

"He's a great player and a solid clubhouse guy," Longoria said. "I'm excited to welcome him back."

Marc Topkin can be reached at Follow his coverage on Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.

Lined up

The Rays will — naturally — consider numerous batting orders, especially vs. right- and left-handed pitchers. Here's one way they could line up, basically alternating right-handed (R) and left-handed (L) hitters:

1. LF Desmond Jennings (R)

2. DH Luke Scott (L)

3. 3B Evan Longoria (R)

4. 1B Carlos Peña (L)

5. 2B Ben Zobrist (S)

6. CF B.J. Upton (R)

7. RF Matt Joyce (L)

8. C Jose Molina (R)

9. SS Sean Rodriguez (R) or Reid Brignac (L)

Trading up

The Rays essentially swapped DH Johnny Damon and 1B Casey Kotchman for DH Luke Scott and 1B Carlos Pena. Here's a look at their 2011 stats and 2012 projections from Bill James:



2011:.261 16 73 .326 .743

2012:.267 12 52 .343 .752


2011:.306 10 48 .378 .800

2012:.268 8 43 .344 .746


2011: .282 26 121

2012: .268 20 95



2011:*.220 9 22 .301 .703

2012:.253 25 71 .340 .827


2011:.225 28 80 .357 .819

2012:.223 27 79 .356 .813


2011:.224 37 102

2012:.239 52 150

* Played only 64 games due to injury

Tampa Bay Rays re-sign first baseman Carlos Peña 01/20/12 [Last modified: Saturday, January 21, 2012 1:10am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Cup-winning Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk makes Hockey Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman said Dave Andreychuk's name has surfaced often the past eight years with the selection committee.

    30 Oct 2001:  Left wing Dave Andreychuk #25 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates towards the blue line during the NHL game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada.  The Maple Leafs defeated the Lightning 3-2.  Mandatory Credit:  Dave Sanford /Allsport
  2. Rays acquire slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from Marlins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chaim Bloom said the Rays weren't necessarily in the market for a shortstop. The team has a number of those. But when the Marlins recently began shopping Adeiny Hechavarria, well, that was too much to pass up.

    Adeiny Hechavarria has emerged as one of baseball’s top defensive shortstops in the past three seasons with the Marlins.
  3. Rays at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, Pittsburgh

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Pirates

    7:05, PNC Park

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: Alex Cobb (6-5, 4.05)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  4. Lightning journal: Forward Yanni Gourde agrees to two-year deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fighting to stay in pro hockey.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde celebrates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA108
  5. What they're saying about Dave Andreychuk making Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    "Dave helped me so much when I was just starting my career, a young kid that was looking to find his way as a hockey player, a person and a member of the Tampa Bay community. In addition to watching him compile such awe-inspiring statistics, I remember him as a big brother to me and many others, making sure all the …