The Houston Astros have taken a monumental step in their transition to the American League. They have signed a player whom they will likely use, at least on a part-time basis, as their designated hitter. The Knobler reports that the club has signed Carlos Pena to a one-year, $2.9 million deal. Pena will likely split DH and first base duties with Brett Wallace.
The Knobler notes that Pena’s deal could be worth up an additional $1.4 million with incentives. Pena spent 2012 with the Tampa Bay Rays, hitting just .197/.330/.354 with 19 home runs in 160 games. Pena has never been one to put up a good batting average, but the drastic dip in slugging was moderately alarming considering his .472 career mark. The 34-year old posted his lowest home run and double (17) totals since reigniting his career in his first stint with the Rays beginning in 2007. Pena spent one year with the Chicago Cubs before re-signing with the Rays prior to last season.
The addition of Pena may spell the end for those hoping for an Astros encore from Lance Berkman. Many figured Houston to be a possible destination for the 36-year old to finish out his career as a DH. Berkman is reportedly undecided on whether or not he will continue his career at this point. He played in just 32 games in 2012 due to knee injuries.
Pena has hit .234/.350/.472 with 277 home runs for his career. It’s nice pick up by the Astros if he can regain his ability to hit for power. Pena also handles the glove very well at first.