UPDATE: Pujols has officially been activated from the disabled list after going through pregame workouts, but surprisingly he’s not in the starting lineup tonight. He is, however, available to pinch-hit.
Brian Stull of 101-ESPN in St. Louis reports that doctors have cleared Albert Pujols to return just two weeks after a fractured wrist that was expected to knock him out for 4-6 weeks.
No roster move has been made yet, but it sounds like Pujols will indeed be in the Cardinals’ lineup for tonight’s game against Edinson Volquez and the rival Reds.
If true, that means Pujols will have missed just 13 games. With a fractured wrist.
St. Louis went 6-7 in his absence to hang on to first place in the NL Central at 46-40, with the Brewers (one game back), the Pirates (1.5), and the Reds (3.0) all within striking distance. And now we’ll see if Pujols can pick up right where he left off, as he was hitting .339 with eight homers and a 1.265 OPS in the 16 games leading up to the injury. Normally I’d note how wrist injuries often sap a hitter’s power initially, but at this point attaching anything “normal” to Pujols seems silly.
The White Sox have reportedly picked up first baseman Yonder Alonso from the Indians, according to Stadium. The return for Alonso is expected to be nothing more flashy than a “fringe prospect,” though the minutiae of the deal is still pending a formal announcement from both teams.
Alonso, 31, inked a two-year deal with the Indians during the 2017 offseason. His first campaign with the club yielded a modest .250/.317/.421 batting line, 23 home runs, .738 OPS and 0.7 fWAR in 574 PA. The real boon for the White Sox may not be a passable veteran bat, however, but something more intangible — like Alonso’s clout with his brother-in-law and highly-coveted free agent slugger, Manny Machado.
While Alonso’s 2018 output represented a significant decline from the career-best numbers he posted in 2017, he’s still a solid contributor at the plate and, more importantly, slated to remain under team control for the next two years with just $8 million owed in 2019 and a $9 million option in 2020. As MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince notes, the $17 million the Indians just erased from their payroll should give them enough room to accommodate the contracts for right-handers Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber — a bonus regardless of what they happen to get in the trade.