Pena's deal allows Cubs to seek more pitching
Splitting up $10 million contract keeps club within budget
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- General manager Jim Hendry got the first baseman he wanted in Carlos Pena, and the way the free agent's contract is structured will help the Cubs in their pursuit of some additional pitching.
Pena's one-year, $10 million deal is similar to what agent Scott Boras did for another client, Adrian Beltre, who hit .265 with eight home runs in the last year of a five-year, $64 million deal with the Mariners. Beltre signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the Red Sox in 2010, and batted .321 with 28 homers and 102 RBIs. He's now a hot item in the market this offseason.
Boras and the Cubs structured Pena's deal so he will be paid $5 million in 2011 and the other $5 million after January 2012. By deferring half of the money, the Cubs can still make some additions to the 2011 roster and stay within their budget.
The Cubs had the top payroll in the National League in 2010 at $144 million, and with the addition of Pena, they now have more than $109 million already committed. Early projections are that next year's payroll will be around $130 million. Five players are arbitration-eligible, including Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall, Tom Gorzelanny, Geovany Soto and Koyie Hill.
Pena did have other offers from at least five teams, and the Cubs were concerned they might lose him to a club that could afford to give the first baseman a long-term contract. But Pena's preference to play in Chicago definitely helped.
On Wednesday, Hendry met with some agents after announcing Pena's signing at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort and planned to continue talks later in the day. There were reports that the Cubs were one of four teams pursuing Matt Garza, who would fit in their budget better than Zack Greinke, but the Rays have apparently decided to hang onto the right-hander for now. Greinke, by the way, is not on Hendry's shopping list.
Hendry will continue to talk to teams about possible trades prior to leaving for Chicago early Thursday. The general manager and some of his staff were headed back to attend a private visitation for Ron Santo, the legendary broadcaster and former third baseman, who died one week ago. A public visitation will be held later Thursday at 4 p.m. CT at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago, and the funeral will be Friday.
The Rule 5 Draft closes the Winter Meetings on Thursday, but the Cubs are not expected to select anyone. Chicago has added 14 young players to the 40-man roster since the season began and needs to have some flexibility rather than committing to someone taken in the draft.
The Cubs are checking Brandon Webb's medical reports to gauge the status of his right shoulder. Webb, who went 22-7 in 2008 with the Diamondbacks, has not pitched since April 2009 because of shoulder issues.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.