With about a month until spring training camps open, the Tampa Bay Rays have found their starting first baseman. Carlos Pena
will reportedly sign a one-year deal
with the Rays worth $7.25 million.
Pena, 33, will begin his second tour with the Rays in 2012. He spent four years with Tampa (2007-2010) - hitting a combined .238/.368/.516 with 144 home runs and a .884 OPS.
After signing a one-year deal with the Chicago Cubs prior to the 2011 season, Pena hit .225/.357/.462 with 28 home runs and 80 RBI.
The left-handed first baseman has always been a power-first type of player, as he's hit an average of 34 home runs and posted a .505 slugging percentage since the 2007 season. However, the slugger has failed to post a batting average above .250 during the past four seasons.
At first glance, Pena's .245 batting average on balls in play (BAbip) over the past two seasons looked to be a factor for a low batting average, but upon further review, Pena has posted a career .278 BAbip during his 11 year career, likely ruling out a regression to the league average (around .300).
Even though Pena may hit around the Mendoza Line and strike out a ton during the course of a season, his power and walk totals always seem to make him valuable. For his career, Pena has posted a a 13.9% walk rate and has posted two seasons with at least a 16% walk rate, including his 2011 season with the Cubs.
From a fantasy perspective, owners get exactly what they've seen with Pena over the past few seasons. A low-average hitting first baseman with home run power. He likely won't hit more than 30 home runs during the regular season and is most likely suited for the utility spot or a bench position on most fantasy rosters.