Cardinals GM says Albert Pujols’ return timetable is “fluid”

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Albert Pujols was initially given a 4-6 week recovery timetable for his fractured wrist, but as you’d expect from someone who’s never played fewer than 143 games in a season he’s already talking about getting back in the lineup.

News that Pujols would likely be in a soft cast for four weeks seemingly ruled out a return at the front end of his timetable, but general manager John Mozeliak told Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch that “everything is fluid” and there’s a CT scan scheduled for next week.

Pujols sounds doubly frustrated by the injury because it’s not something he can simply play through by being tough, which he’s done plenty of in previous seasons.

In his absence manager Tony La Russa indicated to Strauss that rookie Mark Hamilton will likely get at least a couple starts per week at first base, with Lance Berkman seeing the bulk of the time there and Jon Jay getting more action in right field.

There is a “one million percent” chance Aroldis Champan will opt-out of his deal

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that there is a “one million percent” chance Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman will opt out once the season ends.

Just going by the math this makes perfect sense, of course.

Chapman signed a five-year, $86 million deal with the Yankees before the 2017 season. Pursuant to the terms of the deal he’ll make $15 million a year in 2020 and 2021 (he was given an $11 million signing bonus that was finished being paid out last year). This past season the qualifying offer was $17.9 million. Craig Kimbrel of the Cubs just signed a deal that will pay him $16 million in 2020, 2021, and 2022 (he’s making a prorated $16 million this year). Other top closer salaries at the moment include Kenley Jansen ($19,333,334); and Wade Davis ($18 million).

It’s fair to say that Chapman fits into that group and, I think it’s safe to say, more teams would take him than those guys if they were all freely available. As such, Chapman opting out to get more money makes all kinds of sense. Heck, opting out, getting slapped with a qualifying offer, accepting it and then hitting the market unencumbered after the 2020 season would stand him in better financial stead than if he didn’t opt-out in the first place.

The question is whether the Yankees will let it get that far or whether they’ll approach him to renegotiate the final couple of years on the deal or to add some years onto the back of it. If they’re smart they will.