As if moving to center field at age 30 after never playing the position regularly before wasn’t challenging enough for Shin-Soo Choo now he’s dealing with a back injury.
Choo is out of the Reds’ lineup today for the fifth straight game with back spasms and manager Dusty Baker seemed unsure about his return timetable when talking to C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer:
We’d like to get him in within a week of starting [the regular season], but you don’t know. We’re trying not to have any setbacks, because that’ll make it worse. When it comes to back spasms and the back, you’re just guessing. We just don’t want him to have any setbacks.
So much of what the Reds did this offseason is dependent upon Choo getting on base and showing decent range in center field, which makes this is a big worry.
The Mariners are in the midst of reconstructing their roster, a process which most recently resulted in the trade of first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnación to the Yankees, per a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan. While the teams have yet to publicly confirm the deal, the Mariners are expected to receive pitching prospect Juan Then and will likely eat a significant portion of Encarnación’s salary as well.
Encarnación is a sizable get for the Yankees, who could benefit from the veteran’s power and consistency in their ongoing drive toward the postseason. The 36-year-old infielder missed some time with a bout of lower back tightness, dental issues, and soreness in his left hand, but has still maintained a decent .241/.356/.531 batting line with an AL-best 21 home runs, an .888 OPS, and 1.7 fWAR through his first 289 plate appearances of the year. Per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, Encarnación has another $11-12 million left on his contract in 2019, with a $20 million option for the 2020 season and a $5 million buyout.
Then, 19, was acquired by the Yankees in a three-person trade with the Mariners during the 2017 offseason. The right-hander currently ranks no. 27 in the Yankees’ system and made his last pro ball appearance for New York’s rookie-level affiliate in 2018, pitching to a 2.70 ERA, 2.0 BB/9, and 7.6 SO/9 across 50 innings. It’s not clear if any other players are involved in the trade, though USA Today’s Bob Nightengale notes that no other prospects are thought to be included in the package for Encarnación.