Via Steve Adams at MLBTR, we’ve heard that five teams are interested in Wily Mo Pena. The Yankees originally signed him as an amateur free agent, then traded him away.
As Steve said, he had a strong finish in 2010 in AAA Portland and offers minimal risk. Chances are, he could be had on a minor league deal, just like Marcus Thames in 2011. So, is he worth an offer? Let’s take a look.
Pena hasn’t played in the Majors since an awful 64 game stint with the Nationals in 2008. He had a .509 OPS in 206 PAs. The year before, he split time between Boston (.675 OPS) and Washington (.855 OPS). For his career, Pena’s got a .447 SLG (.194 IsoP) but a .307 OBP (.054 IsoD, 5.87 unintentional walk rate). His career actually looks a lot like Marcus Thames’s before Marcus came back to the Yankees in 2010. Before coming to New York this past season, Thames had a career line of .243/.306/.491 (.248 IsoP, .063 IsoD, 7.74 uBB%).
If we’re imagining Pena on the Yankees, though, we’d know that it would probably be in Thames’s intended role of lefty-masher. Let’s see what Wily’s done against lefties in his career.
Like Thames, Pena looks a little better against lefties. He’s got a .340 OBP against them to go along with a .457 SLG (.344 wOBA). If he could replicate that career line in 2011, I’d be happy.
There’s also the issue of fielding. As we all know, Marcus Thames is essentially a statue in left field. Luckily, he was mostly DHing by the end of the year. Pena’s not fantastic out there (-21.8 UZR in the OF since 2002, so that’s about -3.1 per season). However, he wouldn’t be playing all that much and a -3.1 UZR is acceptable for a part time player.
Based on all of that, I think Pena would be worth looking at again. He’s not a butcher in the field and can hit lefties well. He’s also not a complete loss against righties; his rate stats are “meh” but he does have a .202 IsoP against them, so if he runs into the right pitch from a non-southpaw, he can do some damage. While Brett Gardner held his own against lefties and Curtis Granderson improved slightly against them at the end of 2010, the Yankees should still try to have a strong right handed hitter on the bench.