Pena Era Ends In Boston


















The Deal
The Wily Mo Pena era ended in Boston on Friday, not having worked out as the Red Sox had hoped. It concluded with his trade to the Nationals for a player to be named or cash considerations. Four days later, it expanded into a three-team deal, with Washington shipping Triple-A righthander Emiliano Fruto to the Diamondbacks for Triple-A slugger Chris Carter, who went to Boston as the payment for Pena.
The Big Leaguers
Acquired in a March 2006 deal with the Reds for Bronson Arroyo, Pena never could claim a regular role in Boston. Pena, 25, continued to show tremendous power and impressive athleticism for a 6-foot-3, 215-pounder, but he also continued to strike out in bunches and show an utter lack of instincts in the outfield. He played well as a part-timer in 2006 but slumped this year, hitting .218/.291/.385 with five homers and 17 RBIs in 156 at-bats over 73 games. In Washington, he’ll be reunited with general manager Jim Bowden, who acquired him from the Yankees for the Reds in the March 2001 Drew Henson trade. Pena, who’s making $1.875 million this year, will be eligible for arbitration after this season and for free agency after next. He’s a career .256/.312/.468 hitter with 67 homers and 193 RBIs in 459 games.
The Prospects
Carter, 24, entered Stanford as a top recruit but left as a 17th-round pick in 2004. He has bashed his way through the minors, including a .324/.383/.521 performance with 18 homers and 84 RBIs in 126 games at Triple-A Tucson this year. Carter has spent the last two years in Triple-A in part because Arizona has no openings at first base or in left field, but also in part because he’s a well below-average defender at both positions and is best suited to become a DH. His power is obvious, however, as he has 83 homers in 471 pro games.

Fruto, 23, signed out of Colombia with the Mariners in 2000 and went to the Nationals in a deal for Jose Vidro last December. He couldn’t win a job on Washington’s patchwork pitching staff and instead has spent the entire season at Triple-A Columbus, where he has gone 3-9. 5.26 in 18 games (16 starts). He has a 68-59 K-BB ratio in 87 innings, and opponents are hitting .249 with six homers against him. Fruto has a quality arm, capable of delivering low-90s fastballs and plus curveballs and changeups. But he remains a tease who has yet to show the consistency, command or mental toughness to succeed in the majors.

Quick Take
The Nationals currently rank 29th among major league teams with 82 homers, so they’ll find a way to get Pena at-bats. He’ll never hit for a high average, but he still could develop into an annual 30-homer hitter. The Red Sox couldn’t figure out a way to get playing time or production out of Pena, so swapping him for a prospect makes sense, even if Carter isn’t going to be able to DH with David Ortiz on hand in Boston. The Diamondbacks need pitching more than anything, so they’ve become the latest team to take a chance on Fruto.

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