It was announced today that the Royals had signed free agent catcher Francisco Pena to a Major League contract. He will be added to the 40-man roster. Pena has some family ties with the Royals, as his father, Tony Pena was a former manager of the Royals and is now currently serving as the New York Yankees bench coach. His brother, Tony Pena, Jr., also a former Royal, played shortstop..and we all know how well that panned out for us!
Since 2007, as a 17 year old, he has spent his professional career in the Minor Leagues for the New York Mets. With nearly 2,300 plate appearances, he has a career line of .236/.286/.348, 40 HR, 286 RBI, 103 2B, 6 3B, 415 SO, and just 136 BB. Last season he played 89 games, 68 for Triple-A Las Vegas and 21 for Double-A Binghamton of the Eastern League, hitting a career high .254 at both levels with 9 HR and 39 RBI. Behind the plate, he managed to throw out just 15 runners, allowing 35 for steals.
With the addition of Pena, the competition for the backup role of Salvador Perez shouldn't change. Veterans George Kottaras and Brett Hayes are considered the front-runners for the position, which means Francisco will have to work extremely hard to be even considered a legitimate backup. Basically, this signing doesn't make any sense and was not necessary.
This signing also adds another dilemma: who to protect for the 40-man. The roster now has 39 players on it, including Francisco Pena. As Kansas City Star reporter Bob Dutton mentioned in a recent article, the Royals have until Wednesday November 20th to finalize their 40-man roster, otherwise eligible prospects will be made available to other teams in the upcoming Rule-5 Draft. Instead of choosing 2 players to fill the void, now we're down to just 1 player allowed to be added. Some of the more notable names to protect are Michael Mariot, Christian Colon, Cheslor Cuthbert, Lane Adams, Brett Eibner, and Brian Fletcher. We will find out who the lucky 40th member to the roster will be soon enough.