UPDATE: Pujols has officially been activated from the disabled list after going through pregame workouts, but surprisingly he’s not in the starting lineup tonight. He is, however, available to pinch-hit.
Brian Stull of 101-ESPN in St. Louis reports that doctors have cleared Albert Pujols to return just two weeks after a fractured wrist that was expected to knock him out for 4-6 weeks.
No roster move has been made yet, but it sounds like Pujols will indeed be in the Cardinals’ lineup for tonight’s game against Edinson Volquez and the rival Reds.
If true, that means Pujols will have missed just 13 games. With a fractured wrist.
St. Louis went 6-7 in his absence to hang on to first place in the NL Central at 46-40, with the Brewers (one game back), the Pirates (1.5), and the Reds (3.0) all within striking distance. And now we’ll see if Pujols can pick up right where he left off, as he was hitting .339 with eight homers and a 1.265 OPS in the 16 games leading up to the injury. Normally I’d note how wrist injuries often sap a hitter’s power initially, but at this point attaching anything “normal” to Pujols seems silly.
Free agent closer Mark Melancon is entertaining at least two offers in the four-year, $60+ million ballpark, reports FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. The teams thought to be in the running are the Giants and Nationals, with the Giants having a slight edge due to their strong interest in him last summer (per ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick).
Crasnick also said that while the Giants are keeping tabs on the top three free agent closers this winter, the other two being Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman, they’re leaning toward Melancon as a (slightly) more affordable option in the ‘pen. It’s worth noting that Melancon would not cost the Giants a draft pick if they decided to sign him.
Melancon had an outstanding season in 2016, nearly reaching career-best numbers with a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and 5.42 K/BB rate in 71 1/3 innings split between the Pirates and Nationals’ bullpens. The veteran right-hander earned his third career All-Star distinction after stifling opposing hitters with a 1.23 ERA and 7.9 K/9 rate in the first half, and went on to appear in his fourth consecutive playoff run.
Despite the Giants’ apparent lead in the bidding for Melancon, Rosenthal mentioned a third mystery team who might throw their hat in the ring as well. No clubs have been name-dropped as of yet.
Former Tigers infielder Casey McGehee has reportedly signed a one-year deal with the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
It’s the fourth move the corner infielder has made in the last two seasons after seeing short-term stints with the Marlins, Giants and Tigers. He signed a minor league deal with the Tigers prior to the 2016 season, providing the club with some infield depth behind 24-year-old Nick Castellanos. When Castellanos hit the disabled list in August with a broken hand, McGehee was recalled from Triple-A Toledo for a 30-game stint and slashed .228/.260/.239 with one extra-base hit in 96 PA. His career batting line (.258/.317/.384 over eight seasons) isn’t too shabby, but his age and a long history of knee injuries puts a damper on his potential.
McGehee last appeared in the NPB circuit in 2013, when he signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. He spent the bulk of his season at the hot corner, batting an impressive .292/.396/.515 with 28 homers in 590 PA and appearing in the Eagles’ first and only championship run to date.
The deal comes with a club option for 2018, Rosenthal reports, though no figure has been specified.