Cleveland has fallen out of first place by going 9-16 this month and now the Indians will likely be without Shin-Soo Choo until September.
Choo suffered a broken left thumb when he was hit by a Jonathan Sanchez pitch Friday and underwent surgery today, with Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reporting that the right fielder is expected to miss 8-10 weeks.
Eight weeks from now would have him returning in late August, so any kind of setback or slower than expected recovery could lead to Choo missing the remainder of the season. And of course even if he returns at the optimistic end of that timetable there’s no guarantee Choo will fare well with a surgically repaired thumb, particularly since he was hitting just .244 with a .687 OPS in 72 games before the plunking.
Choo hit .302 with an .897 OPS in his first three seasons in Cleveland, averaging 24 homers and 20 steals per 160 games along with standout defense in right field to stake his claim as one of baseball’s most underrated all-around players. He’ll likely be replaced by a platoon of Travis Buck and Austin Kearns.
The New York Yankees have traded third baseman Chase Headley and pitcher Bryan Mitchell to the San Diego Padres for outfielder Jabari Blash. Joel Sherman of the New York Post was the first to report the trade. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic was the first to report that Blash was coming back in return.
Headley, a third baseman, hit .273/.352/.406 for the Yankees last year. He, of course, played for the Padres from 2007 through the middle of 2014, when he was dealt to New York. Mitchell has pitched 48 games for the Yankees, most from the pen, over four seasons, with an ERA of 4.94 in 98.1 innings. He doesn’t strike out many and he walks a lot. He throws hard.
Blash, an outfielder, has hit .200/.323/.336 with eight homers in 279 big league plate appearances. Blash has shown a lot of power potential in the minors, but has not yet put it together in the bigs. Given what the Yankees have in their outfield at the moment, he’s going to be organizational depth or, perhaps, a chit in a future trade.
This would seem to be an exercise in salary clearing by the Yankees in anticipation of another move, as it takes about $13 million off of their payroll. Which is about how much was added to their payroll for 2018 in the Giancarlo Stanton deal. That could get Todd Frazier back for them, perhaps. Or it could help them retain CC Sabathia or go after another starting pitcher. The club likewise maintains an interest in getting under the $197 million payroll threshold which would trigger yet another year of 50% luxury tax payments for the Yankees.