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Washington Nationals: Winter Meetings Day Two - Add LH Bat, Focusing On Adam LaRoche, Carlos Pena.

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Carlos Pena Chatter:

Late this afternoon, FOXSports.com's Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) reported via Twitter that he'd, "Heard from multiple people today that #Cubs are pursuing [Adam] LaRoche to play 1B," in Chicago next season. Having traded Derrek Lee last season to Atlanta and lost out on Adam Dunn, who signed with the crosstown rivals in U.S. Cellular after the Wrigley Field denizens had reportedly once considered the 31-year-old former National a possibility, the Cubs were reportedly, like any team in the hunt for a left-handed hitting first baseman, interested in either LaRoche or former Tampa Bay Rays' 1B Carlos Pena to fill the hole left by Lee's departure after seven years in a Cubs uniform. 

The FOXSports.com writer (@JonMorosi) has also heard that Adam Dunn's former team, the Washington Nationals, who are in the market for a 1B after letting Dunn walk, might be interested in trying to add Carlos Pena, which isn't news to fans in the nation's capital, but has now been confirmed by sources outside D.C. Mr. Morosi, again on Twitter wrote this afternoon that, "With RH [Right Handed] power bats Werth and Zim, #Nats would prefer [a] LH-hitting 1B. Hearing Carlos Pena's name connected [with] them."

Pena's name has been tied to Washington since late July/August when talk of Adam Dunn moving on first grew louder around the Non-Waiver Trade Deadline. The Nationals reportedly prefer a stronger defensive presence at first than they felt Dunn provided, and though Pena's brutal .196/.325/.407 slash line has some worried (it's down from .226/.356/.537/ in '09, .247/.377/.494 in '08 and .282/.411/.627 in '07), the Nationals apparently think a stronger defensive first baseman can help the young infield of Ryan Zimmerman at third, Ian Desmond at short and Danny Espinosa at second that the team's expected to field. Pena, along with recent signee Jayson Werth, in theory, would bolster the defense while also bringing back some of the power the team lost with Dunn's departure. 

• SI.com's Jon Heyman (SI_JonHeyman): "#nationals and #cubs like carlos pena for 1B. both teams want defender at position."

• Jeff Zriebec of the Baltimore Sun was present this afternoon when O's Skipper Buck Showalter discussed Carlos Pena briefly, and said the Orioles are apparently still in the market for a first baseman. In a transcript of Mr. Showalter's daily press conference entitled, "Showalter meets the media", the manager was asked if the newly-acquird by the O's former D-Backs' third baseman Mark Reynolds' high K totals would, "eliminate the strikeout-prone Carlos Pena," from contention for the other corner of the infield in Camden Yards? "'That doesn't eliminate anybody," Showalter is quoted saying, "'...if they are plus defenders.'"

• Chicago Tribune sports writer Paul Sullivan, in an article entitled, "Cubs have eye on first baseman Pena", wrote yesterday that the 32-year-old former Ranger, A, Tiger, Red Sox and Ray, "is the most prominent available free agent who fits the Cubs' description," of a replacement for Derrek Lee, but with Chicago expected to cut the team payroll by 15-20% and at least three teams in competition for Pena's services, Mr. Sullivan predicts that the pursuit, "could force the Cubs into a bidding war they likely can't win."

In an article late in the afternoon today at ChicagoBreakingSports.com entitled, "Cubs deny targeting free-agent 1B LaRoche", Mr. Sullivan did however say that, "A report the Cubs have turned to Adam LaRoche as their primary choice at first base," (like the one which began this post), "was shot down by team sources." "The Cubs have spoken to Carlos Pena's agent, Scott Boras, but Pena may not be in their price range," Mr. Sullivan writes, "They will talk to Boras again before the Winter Meetings are over."

The Cubs, Blue Jays and O's are apparently all interested in Pena's services. Will the Nats' acquisition of Jayson Werth impress more than the O's trade for Reynolds? Does the idea of playing for the Blue Jays' and remaining in the AL East appeal to Pena? Will Scott Boras steer him to D.C. to collect some more of the fat cash the Nats are handing out? O's, Jays, Cubs, Nats? Where are you going Pena?