Indians Add Moore and Pena on Minor League Deals
Bob Toth | On 02, Feb 2017
For the catcher Moore, his deal included the opportunity to participate with the big league club with his non-roster invite to spring training. It will be his third straight camp with the Indians after signing previous minor league deals with Cleveland prior to the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
The contract for Pena was a late 35th birthday present (he celebrated on January 23). He will look to make his return to baseball after last appearing in the Majors in 2011 and last playing professionally in Japan in 2015.
Moore will provide the Indians with another catcher through the spring while the club deals with the temporary absence of backup backstop Roberto Perez, who will miss some time while participating in the World Baseball Classic as a member of Team Puerto Rico. Moore joins Yan Gomes, Francisco Mejia, Guillermo Quiroz, and Erik Kratz as catchers in spring camp for the Indians.
Moore will be looking to latch on with Cleveland for a third consecutive season. The 32-year-old and eight-year vet has appeared in ten games for Cleveland over the last two seasons, making nine plate appearances in the process. He saw the bulk of his work at Triple-A Columbus, where he hit .247 in 86 games for the Clippers.
Prior to joining the Indians, Moore had spent time with the Seattle Mariners, Kansas City Royals, and San Diego Padres organizations.
Pena becomes an interesting depth option in the outfield and first base mix for the Indians heading into 2017. It has been reported that if he is able to reach the Major League level for Cleveland, he will make $700,000.
He broke into the Majors at the age of 20 in 2002 with the Cincinnati Reds after spending several seasons in the minors with the New York Yankees. After a half season of work with the Reds’ MLB club in 2003, he played in 110 games in one of his best pro seasons in 2004, hitting 26 homers and driving in 66. He was dealt to the Boston Red Sox prior to the 2006 season for pitcher Bronson Arroyo and was traded by the club in August of 2007 to the Washington Nationals. After his release from the Nationals in 2009, he spent time with the New York Mets and San Diego Padres organizations at the minor league level before later emerging again in the Majors with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Seattle Mariners in 2011.
A free agent after that season, the right-handed hitter signed overseas with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks and spent 2012 and 2013 with the club. After appearing in 130 games and hitting .280 with 21 homers and 76 RBI in his first season in the Japan Central League, he played just 55 games the following season with a .233 average, one homer, and 16 RBI.
At the age of 32 in 2014, he burst back onto the scene with a 32-homer season for the Orix Buffaloes while hitting .255 with 90 RBI. He continued his tour of the JPCL the following season, joining his third club in four years as he played for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, hitting .268 with a .396 on-base percentage with 17 homers and 40 RBI in 125 games.
Pena left the Japanese game behind in 2016 and returned home to his native Dominican Republic to spend more time with his family, but picked up the bat and glove once again this fall and winter for Los Tigres del Licey, participating in Dominican winter ball action for the first time since 2011-12 with the thoughts of a possible return to the pro game.
In ten games for Licey, he was 6-for-26 (.231) with six singles and four runs batted in.
If you want to catch up on some of the interesting moments surrounding Pena’s time in Japan, check this link from MLB.com about bat flips, bobbleheads, and celebrating home runs with stuffed animals…