At the time it looked much worse than the initial diagnosis of a sprain and sure enough the Cardinals have announced that Albert Pujols will be out for 4-6 weeks after further examination revealed a “non-displaced fracture” in his left forearm, near his wrist.
Losing him for at least a month is obviously a huge blow to the Cardinals, particularly since Pujols had successfully recovered from a career-worst start to hit .317 with eight homers and a 1.197 OPS in 17 games this month.
With that said, similar injuries on collisions at first base have caused players to miss significantly more than 4-6 weeks–with Cliff Floyd and his shattered wrist being one prominent example from 2000–and even the far end of that timetable would have Pujols returning in early August with 50 games left on the schedule.
Presumably the Cardinals will shift Lance Berkman to first base, with Jon Jay taking over as the primary right fielder. Another option would be to call up 26-year-old Mark Hamilton from Triple-A, where he’s hit .317 with 26 homers and a .971 OPS in three career stints totaling 145 games, and use him at first base while keeping Berkman in the outfield. St. Louis is relatively well-equipped to handle Pujols’ absence, but keeping pace with the Brewers and Reds atop the NL Central for even six weeks while waiting for the three-time MVP to return is asking a lot.
The Rangers will not sign free agent reliever Seung-hwan Oh after all. Reports from MLB.com’s TR Sullivan indicate that negotiations were brought to a halt after a physical issue was found with the pitcher. While the specifics have yet to be released, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News says the issue was revealed on an MRI of the right-hander’s arm.
Oh was thought to be in talks with the Rangers last week, though a deal was never officially announced by the club. The 35-year-old righty is fresh off of a two-year run with the Cardinals, during which he posted a cumulative 39 saves, 2.85 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 10.2 SO/9 in 139 innings. He struggled with consistency in his sophomore season, however, and finished 2017 with a disappointing 4.10 ERA and 4.44 FIP in 62 appearances for the team.
While Oh hasn’t experienced any setbacks with his arm in the majors so far, he does have a history of prior injuries during his time in KBO. He sustained a shoulder injury in 2009 and underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow in 2010. It’s possible that the Rangers saw an entirely different problem on the MRI, but clearly it was enough to give them strong reservations about inking the righty to a $2.75+ million deal. It’s still possible that another of Oh’s suitors will offer him a contract prior to Opening Day; the Giants were rumored to be interested in the veteran reliever, among other teams, though their recent acquisition of lefty reliever Tony Watson will likely take them out of the running now.