It stood to reason that the awful Astros, fully committed to a complete overhaul that has been needed for a while now, would have to sign a player casual fans have heard of before. Carlos Pena is that very player, as he’ll join his new team on a one-year deal that will pay him $2.9 million. While the details haven’t been released yet, Pena can force Houston to pay him up to $4.3 million if he hits his incentive marks. Pena doesn’t have to switch leagues or anything, as the Astros saved him the troubled by moving their entire franchise to the junior circuit.
Once considered vastly underrated because of his batting eye, raw power, and first base glove, Pena is no longer a critical darling among those of us who are all up in the number crunching. Pena hit just .197/.330/.354 in 2012, striking out over 30% of the time. He still charts well enough as a defender according to UZR, but UZR kind of sucks at evaluating first basemen. Pena still has it in him to succeed at least to some degree, as he’s just a year removed from a solid 2.7-WAR season.
Pena wouldn’t be a gamble worth taking for a contending team in need of a first base/DH type, but the Astros are far from anything resembling contention. Instead, he’ll grab some at-bats, possibly help the lineup steer clear of complete ineptitude, and maybe even return to relevancy at the age of 34. Pena’s power and patience are still somewhere inside his 6’2″ frame, and perhaps he can unlock them just in time to help the Astros not lose every single game they play. This is a one-year deal that helps fill a gap around a lot of young players looking to learn, and Pena has the reputation of a truly great guy who might be ideal to help with the development of others.