Why not bring Carlos Pena back to the North Side for the 2012 season?
He’s not the long-term answer, of course, but Pena, 33, has expressed a desire to return, and the Cubs hardly have an internal option to replace him.
It’s clear Theo & Company are building towards the future, but also strongly emphasize the importance of keeping the Cubs somewhat respectable for the upcoming season. That’s where Pena presents value on several fronts.
In the ‘New Cubs Way,’ Team Theo Epstein is focusing on ‘winning players,’ guys who work pitch counts and solid defenders. Pena exemplifies all three.
He’s an unquestionable leader in the clubhouse, set an all-time high for a Cubs first baseman with 101 walks, and remains a Gold Glove caliber fielder.
Aside from Pena’s return, the Cubs have but two in-house replacements in Tyler Colvin & Bryan LaHair, and who know if either can match Pena’s production in any category.
Even more unlikely is the thought Chicago will sign one of the available big-ticket first baseman: Albert Pujols & Prince Fielder (although, the Sveum hire adds fuel to the fire with Fielder).
Yet despite Pena’s current free agency, the Cubs still owe him $5M in deferred money from his 1-year, $10M deal signed last season.
It’s unlikely the Cubs will get another bargain deal from Pena’s agent Scott Boras. But a 2-year deal doesn’t seem out of the question, especially if the Cubs agree to trade Pena to a contender should he grow tired of the rebuilding process.
In the meantime, if Pena truly wants to return to Chicago, and the Cubs truly want to begin righting the ship…why get rid of a solid player you’re already paying?