The Braves were dealt at least a modest blow Wednesday with the news that Ramiro Pena, who has been on the DL since June 21 with a right shoulder impingement, will need season-ending surgery for a torn labrum.
It was a big surprise this winter when the Braves signed Pena to a major league contract as a minor league free agent; the 27-year-old hit just .233/.266/.288 in 313 at-bats over part of four season with the Yankees. However, he was an immediate success as a utilityman for in Atlanta, driving in six runs in his first three starts for the team. Overall, he was hitting .278/.330/.443 in 97 at-bats.
The loss of Pena means Tyler Pastornicky will get a chance to stick as a utilityman. Last year’s Opening Day shortstop, Pastornicky was supposed to spend this season playing regularly in Triple-A. He’s gone 4-for-14 in two stints with the Braves this year.
The Braves likely will be in the market for a veteran infielder next month, preferably someone with enough pop to spell Chris Johnson at third against some righties.
The Blue Jays announced on Friday that the club acquired outfielder Randal Grichuk from the Cardinals in exchange for pitcher Dominic Leone and minor league pitcher Conner Greene.
Grichuk, 26, became expendable when the Cardinals acquired Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins. With veteran Dexter Fowler in right field and Tommy Pham — who finished 11th in NL MVP Award balloting last season — in center, Grichuk was effectively pushed to the bench. He will get a shot at regular playing time in an outfield corner with the Jays. Grichuk has had solid numbers since debuting in 2014, but he hasn’t been able to recapture the magic of his 2015 campaign. Last year, he hit .238/.285/.473 with 22 home runs and 59 RBI in 442 plate appearances.
Grichuk will earn $2.8 million this season and will be eligible for arbitration for two more years before becoming a free agent.
Leone, 26, posted an impressive 2.56 ERA with an 81/23 K/BB ratio across 70 1/3 innings last season. The right-hander will earn $1.085 million this season and then will become arbitration-eligible for the next three years. Leone certainly helps bolster the Cardinals’ bullpen and may work his way up to high-leverage innings behind closer Luke Gregerson.
Greene, 22, was selected by the Blue Jays in the seventh round of the 2013 draft. This past season, with Double-A New Hampshire, Greene compiled a 5.29 ERA with a 92/83 K/BB ratio in 132 2/3 innings. He throws hard, but control has been a big issue for the right-hander throughout his minor league career. The Cardinals may think they can help turn him around.