Injuries always play a major role in shaping the trade deadline; indeed, waiting to see how health issues shake out is one of the biggest reasons that clubs wait until they are under the gun to make their moves. We already have covered some notable recent developments — Rich Hill isn’t yet ready for a start for the Athletics; Mets center fielder Juan Lagares just went down to thumb surgery; the Rangers lost Prince Fielder for the season; and Royals reliever Luke Hochevar is likely headed for his own season-ending surgery.
Here are a few more less-impactful, but still notable injury updates from recent days:
- The Astros added infielder Luis Valbuena to the DL yesterday with a hamstring injury, as Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Though it still seems like a relatively minor injury, it could shake things up for Houston. For one thing, it likely means extended exposure at the hot corner for top prospect Alex Bregman. For another, it could increase the need to get just-signed Cuban infielder Yulieski Gurriel into minor league action and then up to the majors. The really interesting question, though, is whether the injury opens some added daylight for the ’Stros to go after a big bat on the trade market. And it goes without saying that the injury snuffs out whatever meager chance there was that Valbuena would be moved as part of Houston’s deadline machinations. [Updated Astros Depth Chart]
- This one is from two days back, but the Phillies’ placement of outfielder Peter Bourjos on the DL certainly seems to change things a bit on the center field market. He’d have represented a useful plug-in for teams in need of a swift-footed defender down the stretch. And even if his hot streak was destined to fizzle out, Bourjos has shown that he can still bring something to the table with the bat. As things stand, though, his shoulder is enough of a question mark that he’d be a tough player to add on speculation; given his cheap salary, moreover, Philadelphia will likely be forced to take a meager return should Bourjos be moved in the August waiver-wire period. [Updated Phillies Depth Chart]
- Rays first baseman Logan Morrison has hit the shelf with a forearm strain, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported via Twitter. Given his struggles, Morrison’s departure from the first base market isn’t a major change. Still, though, Tampa Bay might have hoped to offload some of the remainder of Morrison’s $4.2MM salary this year, particularly given that he’ll be a free agent this fall. Though his overall .228/.304/.371 batting line on the year leaves quite a bit to be desired, LoMo has traditionally put up solid results (.754 OPS) against right-handed pitching. [Updated Rays Depth Chart]
- Meanwhile, the Rays activated right-handed reliever Brad Boxberger from the DL. He still hasn’t made an appearance since returning from an oblique strain, and has only seen action in a single game this year. While that leaves him as an unlikely trade target, there’s an outside chance that a club seeking shelter from the high price tags on top pen arms could look for a buy-low opportunity. The Rays will surely hope he can rebuild some value over the next several months, but with Boxberger set to reach arbitration after the season, there’s likely to be added motivation to move him. Over his 178 MLB frames, Boxberger owns a 3.03 ERA with 11.9 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 — with even better results in 2014 — so there’s obviously some upside there.
- To be sure, the odds of the Royals dealing Lorenzo Cain were always slight — even if the team is open to listening on him. But a hamstring injury and month-long layoff seemed to all but eliminate the already-feeble chances of a trade. Now Cain is back from the DL, and ready to get back to work at making this season’s batting line (.288/.338/.413) look more like that from 2015 (.307/.361/.477). It still seems that an offseason deal — if any — is more likely, but there’s no question that contenders would have serious interest in a player who has established himself as one of the game’s better all-around players in recent years. [Updated Royals Depth Chart]
- Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock, who has missed the entire season after fracturing his elbow late this spring, faced live pitching for the first time yesterday, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic tweets. Pollock’s status won’t directly factor into the deadline; he’s not going anywhere and the D-Backs aren’t shopping for a replacement. Still, though, the fact that he seems to be making progress toward a return in 2016 may fortify Arizona’s resolve to maintain its course as a modest seller over the coming days.