J.J. Hardy out 2-3 weeks with strained oblique muscle

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J.J. Hardy is expected to miss 2-3 weeks after an MRI exam revealed a strained oblique muscle, which qualifies as good news considering the initial reports that he could miss six weeks. However, because oblique strains tend to linger 2-3 weeks is hardly a guaranteed return timetable.

Hardy played well for Minnesota last season, hitting .268 with a .714 OPS and his usual excellent defense at shortstop, but the Twins traded him to the Orioles in large part because he missed 61 games with injuries and was often scratched from the lineup even when not on the disabled list.

He lasted just six games before heading to the shelf in Baltimore, and while Hardy was plenty durable for the Brewers in 2007 and 2008 he’s definitely acquired the “injury prone” label at this point. An impending free agent earning $5.85 million this season, Hardy will be replaced in the lineup with fellow elite defender Cesar Izturis.

Report: Astros, Alex Bregman agree to five-year, $100 million extension

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Fox 26’s Mark Berman reports that the Astros and third baseman Alex Bregman have agreed to $100 million contract extension. MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart confirms a deal has been reached and adds that the deal is actually for five years, beginning after the 2019 season. The contract will cover all three of Bregman’s arbitration years and two years of would-be free agency.

Bregman, who turns 25 years old later this month, has quickly become one of the best third basemen in baseball. Across parts of three seasons, he has hit .282/.366/.500 with 58 home runs, 208 RBI, 224 runs scored, and 29 stolen bases. FanGraphs credited him with 7.6 Wins Above Replacement, tied with Francisco Lindor and Christian Yelich for the fourth-best mark among position players in baseball, trailing only Mookie Betts (10.4), Mike Trout (9.8), and José Ramírez (8.0).

This is obviously a smart move for the Astros, as this contract extension will secure Bregman’s age 25-30 seasons. With second baseman José Altuve also locked up through 2024, and presumed extensions to come for Carlos Correa and possibly Gerrit Cole and George Springer, the Astros have a core that they can build around for years to come.