The Tigers have unconditionally released Carlos Pena, thus ending his career as a Tiger. By releasing him now, the Tigers only have to pay 45 days of Pena’s $2.8 million salary, thus saving $2.1 million.
While the move isn’t surprising, I can’t help but be disappointed. I’m sure every effort was made to trade Pena, but there probably weren’t takers. While Pena has been frustratingly erratic, he still provides a powerful left handed bat, as well as plate discipline. While the Tigers weren’t lacking for first basemen, they are still lacking in those areas. And even despite Pena’s horrible first half, he still managed an 802 OPS in 2005.
This move definitely weakens the Tiger bench. While there isn’t a need for a first baseman/DH right now, one of the players that Detroit it relying on to man those positions is Dmitri Young who’s played one full season in his Tiger career. Omar Infante and Vance Wilson will occupy two of the 4 bench spots. A third spot will go to a backup outfielder who can probably play center – so Nook Logan or Alexis Gomez. That leaves one additional spot.
If the last spot is used to keep Marcus Thames in the organization, it will temper my disappointment somewhat. I don’t want to see the spot go to a light hitting infielder such as Ramon Santiago, or an error prone infielder such as Don Kelly.
Meanwhile, somebody will get a 28 year old power bat for cheap. Maybe Pena will never be an everyday player, and he may not be worth $2.8 million. However, he’d be a heck of a platoon option on the right team.