Pirates get minor leaguer Eliecer Cardenas from Braves to complete Matt Diaz trade

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Three weeks ago the Braves re-acquired outfielder Matt Diaz from the Pirates for a player to be named later and today Pittsburgh chose minor-league reliever Eliecer Cardenas to complete the deal.

Cardenas was in the Twins’ farm system until this year, when the Braves picked him in the minor-league phase of the Rule 5 draft.

He had an amazing season, throwing 57 innings with a 0.75 ERA and 75 strikeouts, but he was also a 23-year-old facing Single-A hitters and has a modest track record. And he got rocked after moving up to Double-A late in the season.

He’s certainly a fair return for Diaz, whom the Pirates were happy to remove from the payroll after signing him to a two-year, $4.25 million deal this offseason. Diaz didn’t hit in Pittsburgh and has gotten a total of just 28 plate appearances in 21 days with Atlanta.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.