Wily Mo signs with Japanese team
Wily Mo Pena, who became a free agent after playing 22 games with the Mariners in the final two months last season, has signed a two-year deal with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks in Japan’s Pacific League.
The powerful Pena never quite has transferred his legendary batting practice prowess into Major League success and the Mariners didn’t pursue him after a brief look at whether he could be an answer to their DH search.
The 6-foot-3, 260-pounder batted .209 with two home runs and eight RBIs in 67 at-bats for Seattle after being signed midseason as a Minor League free agent following his release by the D-backs.
Pena, 29, has a career .250 average with 84 home runs and .445 slugging percentage, but just a .303 on-base percentage in 599 big league games with the Reds, Reds Sox, Nationals, D-backs and Mariners.
Pena was an extremely likeable fellow who was well-respected by the young Mariners players, but he just struggled too much to make contact (20 strikeouts in 67 at-bats) to be a long-term answer.
With veteran infielder Adam Kennedy agreeing to a one-year, $800,000 deal with the Dodgers on Thursday, that leaves catcher Josh Bard and reliever Jamey Wright as the only unsigned Mariners free agents from last year.
Bard and Wright are the two of that original four that seemed most likely to be brought back by Seattle. Both were on Minor League deals last year and presumably are seeking Major League deals similar to the one Kennedy just inked, but are at the age where they might need to opt for the non-roster invite again if they can’t find someone willing to offer the 40-man roster spot and Major League deal.
With free agency heating up and the Rule 5 draft set for next Thursday in Dallas, the Mariners — like all clubs — are in the midst of sorting all that out. Seattle’s 40-man roster currently sits at 37.