It’s not often that a major league pitcher is going to prefer to have arm surgery in the Dominican Republic. It might have been necessary in this case, though.
Bartolo Colon received injections of his own stem cells into his shoulder and elbow to treat a rotator cuff tear and ligament damage in a procedure a year ago, the New York Times reports.
Florida-based doctor Joseph R. Purita said he flew to the Dominican Republic and performed the procedures for free. He added that he has also used human growth hormone in similar procedures, though he didn’t in this case.
MLB is looking into the procedure. The Yankees said they didn’t know about it when they signed Colon to a minor league deal this spring. Colon’s agent only informed the team after learning that the New York Times had contacted Purita and was doing an article. The Yankees then informed the league.
Purita made it clear that his procedures are legal in the United States. He said he uses platelet-rich plasma injections in combination with human growth hormone to treat many ligament injuries and arthritic conditions.
Colon, who didn’t pitch after the procedure last April, has returned to the majors to go 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA in four starts and three relief appearances for the Yankees. If he keeps it up, it’d be his first successful season since he won the Cy Young Award for the Angels in 2005. He went 14-21 with a 5.18 ERA from 2006-09.
The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.
The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.
For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.
The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.
St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.
The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.
Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?
Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.