Another day, another injured MLB pitcher.
Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that Mets starter Jon Niese was pulled from Sunday’s Grapefruit League game against the Cardinals with what’s being called a hyperextended left elbow. Niese suffered the injury 10 days ago in an intrasquad game and it began causing him discomfort in the second inning Sunday.
The hyperextension is near the back of the elbow, not in the area of the ulnar collateral ligament that is often repaired through Tommy John surgery. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s in the clear. An MRI is scheduled for Monday in New York.
It is obviously now unlikely that the 27-year-old southpaw will be able to make his appointed Opening Day start. Bartolo Colon could get the nod instead. Dillon Gee is also an option.
Niese posted a solid 3.71 ERA with 105 strikeouts in 143 innings last summer for the Mets.
The Dodgers have pulled off their first blockbuster trade of the offseason, sending Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir, Charlie Culberson, Adrian Gonzalez and cash considerations to the Braves for Matt Kemp, per announcements from both teams. The Braves are set to designate Gonzalez for assignment on Monday, making him a free agent.
Kemp, 33, had a down year with the Braves in 2017, hitting a career-low -0.5 fWAR in 115 games with the club. At the plate, he slashed a modest .276/.318/.463 with 19 home runs and a .781 OPS through 467 plate appearances, but was hampered by a nagging left hamstring strain through most of the season. This will be his 10th campaign with the Dodgers.
Whether or not Kemp can rebound during his second stint in Los Angeles is almost beside the point, however. The deal is effectively a salary dump to end all salary dumps. Offloading multiple one-year contracts for McCarthy, Kazmir and Gonzalez should bring the Dodgers back under the $197 million luxury tax threshold and position them to make a run at some of the big fish in next year’s free agent pool. It’s also worth noting that they may not keep Kemp around for long — per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, the club appears as likely to flip the veteran outfielder as they are to use him. As for the Braves, they not only rid themselves of the $43 million due Kemp through 2020, but added some rotation and infield depth with McCarthy and Culberson and can now give top prospect Ronald Acuna a legitimate tryout in left field.