Cleveland has fallen out of first place by going 9-16 this month and now the Indians will likely be without Shin-Soo Choo until September.
Choo suffered a broken left thumb when he was hit by a Jonathan Sanchez pitch Friday and underwent surgery today, with Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reporting that the right fielder is expected to miss 8-10 weeks.
Eight weeks from now would have him returning in late August, so any kind of setback or slower than expected recovery could lead to Choo missing the remainder of the season. And of course even if he returns at the optimistic end of that timetable there’s no guarantee Choo will fare well with a surgically repaired thumb, particularly since he was hitting just .244 with a .687 OPS in 72 games before the plunking.
Choo hit .302 with an .897 OPS in his first three seasons in Cleveland, averaging 24 homers and 20 steals per 160 games along with standout defense in right field to stake his claim as one of baseball’s most underrated all-around players. He’ll likely be replaced by a platoon of Travis Buck and Austin Kearns.
Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.
McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).
McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.