|Hot Stove: The Wily Mo Show heads to Japan||11.27.11 at 11:39 am ET|
According to an industry source, former Red Sox outfielder Wily Mo Pena is close to a two-year deal with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks in Japan. The deal, with a seven-figure annual salary, covers Pena’s age 30 and 31 seasons, and is expected to feature a significant role with the reigning NPB champion.
The 29-year-old slugger with legendary power is hoping that regular playing time in Japan’s highest level of competition will help to improve an approach that has permitted him to murder fastballs but has been vulnerable to quality breaking balls. Japan will test that kryptonite, as NPB pitchers typically feature a heavy and extensive diet of breaking balls. But, if Pena can adapt, he would be positioned to pursue his next contract after his age 31 season, while still relatively young for a free agent.
Pena hit .204 with a .250 OBP, .416 slugging mark and .666 OPS in 120 major league plate appearances with the Diamondbacks and Mariners this year, blasting seven homers. In the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, he put up video game numbers, hitting .358/.440/.712/1.152 with 25 homers in 76 games for Reno (Arizona’s affiliate) and Tacoma (the Mariners’ club).
Pena played parts of two seasons with the Red Sox in 2006 and 2007, hitting .271/.328/.451/.779 before being traded in August 2007. He was acquired from the Reds during spring training in 2006 in exchange for right-hander Bronson Arroyo.
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