In fact, Pena said that Nationals manager Jim Riggleman tried his best to convince him to sign with the club, but Pena wanted to be reunited with Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo. The two worked together when they were with the Rangers. Pena had one of the worst seasons of his career in 2010, hitting .196 with 28 homers and 84 RBIs.
The Nationals believed that Pena could help improve their defense and provide leadership.
"I know Mr. Riggleman very well and he spoke to me and told me how interested the Nationals were in me," Pena said. "But the Cubs were out there with their right foot forward and ready to get something done. That was very comforting to me to see how much belief there is in me as a player and how much they wanted me to be part of their club."
Asked if the Nationals are ready to win, Pena said, "I think they are moving in the right direction. Obviously, the Jayson Werth signing shows a lot of desire to move forward. That's a great statement. Baseball will thrive in D.C. If the Nationals get it going, it's going to be a madhouse every single day.
"I know how it can get in Washington. I have friends that I talk to there. So I'm well aware how cool of a market it would be. To see the organization move in the right direction is exciting."