Pujols to have injured elbow examined by Dr. James Andrews

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Albert Pujols declined to undergo Tommy John surgery last winter and there’s no indication that he’ll opt for the procedure this offseason, but he is scheduled to have his injured right elbow examined next week by Dr. James Andrews.
Tommy John surgery is much easier on hitters than pitchers, but Pujols would still be facing 6-8 months of rehab that would likely sideline him well into next season. In other words, expect him to continue playing through the pain.
“It’s definitely something we’re aware of and are keeping tabs on,” general manager John Mozeliak said. “This isn’t a new condition, but it is something all of us want to monitor.”
Pujols went homerless in his final 89 at-bats, which is a career-long drought, but has insisted that the injury wasn’t to blame. However, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch notes that “weight training causes the right elbow more discomfort than baseball-related activities” and “an abbreviated weight program contributed to Pujols’ thickening waist as the season progressed.”
In addition to the season-ending drought, Pujols homered once every 17.4 at-bats overall in the second half after going deep once every 9.6 at-bats before the All-Star break. Of course, along with the drop in power he still hit .322/.427/.582 in the second half and .357/.440/.616 in September, which is why he’s the best baseball player on the planet.

Report: Astros, Michael Brantley agree to two-year, $32 million contract

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros and outfielder Michael Brantley are closing in on an agreement for a two-year contract in the $32 million range.

Brantley, 31, played a mostly full season last year for the first time since 2015. He hit .309/.364/.468 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 631 plate appearances. He made the AL All-Star squad for the third time in his career.

Brantley’s health, though, is why he had to settle for a two-year deal as opposed to a longer contract for a player of his caliber. He will take over in left field. In the event Brantley succumbs to injury woes, the Astros have top prospect Kyle Tucker waiting in the wings.

Update: According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who also reports that the deal is in place, the Astros plan to rotate Brantley between left field, first base, and DH. That opens up some more playing time for Tucker.