Cardinals’ first baseman Matt Carpenter won’t be joining Team USA when the World Baseball Classic kicks off on Monday. Club manager Mike Matheny and GM John Mozeliak confirmed the withdrawal, though the decision was left up to Carpenter in the days preceding the tournament.
The infielder had been taking things slow in camp this spring and was scratched from a spring training game on Thursday after experiencing tightness in his lower back. Now, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that the infielder is taking preventative measures to make sure the soreness does not spread to his oblique, especially in light of the right oblique injury that sidelined him through nearly a full month of the 2016 season. He’s expected to continue running defensive drills in camp, but won’t be swinging a bat for the remainder of the weekend and likely won’t appear in a game until next Friday’s match-up with the Nationals.
This would have been Carpenter’s first appearance in the World Baseball Classic. There was some chatter about his return to Team USA during the second round of the WBC, but as Rob Rains of Stlsportspage.com points out, that rule is exclusively reserved for pitchers. Instead, he’s scheduled to be replaced by the Pirates’ Josh Harrison, who will assume a utility role under the direction of Team USA manager Jim Leyland.
Craig Mish of SiriusXM reports that the Brewers have put together a trade offer for Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich. He describes the club’s interest in Yelich as “strong,” and notes that other teams remain in the mix.
Yelich’s relationship with the Marlins was recently described by his agent as “irretrievably broken” following the trades of Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, and Dee Gordon. His agent said Yelich “needs to get on with his career where he’s got a chance to win.” Understandably, teams have been calling the Marlins asking about him.
The 26-year-old hit .282/.369/.439 with 18 home runs, 81 RBI, 100 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 695 plate appearances last season. He’s in the fourth year of a seven-year, $49.57 million contract of which $44.5 million remains. Given how slow the free agent market has been this offseason, it’s difficult to say exactly what he would get if he were to hit the open market, but it is safe to say that his current contract is very much a bargain for his team, which only makes him even more attractive to inquiring teams.
The Brewers are an interesting team to get involved in the Yelich sweepstakes. Their outfield already has three capable players in Ryan Braun, Domingo Santana, and Keon Broxton. Yelich would still be an upgrade, but the Brewers’ resources may be better spent in other areas like the starting rotation.
Given Yelich’s displeasure and Jeter’s insistence on stripping the Marlins bare — including, potentially, the iconic home run sculpture — it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see a trade happen.