Here’s the latest out of the National League Central:
- Cardinals lefty Marco Gonzales is being assessed for a left elbow injury, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports. The 24-year-old is slated to visit orthopedic surgeon Neal ElAttrache — one of the foremost experts on pitching elbows — for a second opinion. Per GM John Mozeliak, Gonzales did not report discomfort until after he had been moved to minor league camp this spring, which might suggest that the club will be able to avoid allowing Gonzales to accrue service time during any DL stint. The young southpaw has previously battled through shoulder issues, but this appears to be a new problem. Though he’s only managed a 4.82 ERA with 7.7 K/9 against 5.3 BB/9 over his 37 1/3 MLB innings, Gonzales had been expected to factor into the club’s major league rotation depth in 2016 and beyond.
- In other Cardinals injury news, reserve backstop Brayan Pena is expected to miss a month after undergoing knee surgery, Langosch reports. While there was some positive news, in that no additional problems were discovered beyond the loose piece of cartilage that had been identified, the absence is somewhat longer than had been hoped. Eric Fryer will hold down the fort in Pena’s stead, but certainly the Cards will look forward to Pena’s return, having signed him to a two-year, $5MM deal before the season.
- The Pirates’ extension of Gregory Polanco represents the club’s latest long-term deal with a key outfielder. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports questions whether the youngster gave up too much — namely, three years of potential free agency, the latter two via option — in taking a $35MM guarantee. On the one hand, Polanco is regarded as a quality defender and an excellent baserunner, giving him a solid floor even if he’s only an average hitter, and there’s certainly upside in the bat. Of course, for a player who has yet to finish a season with an above-average batting line, and didn’t land a big bonus when he signed initially, it’s hard to turn down that kind of commitment even if it mans sacrificing some future earning power. Indeed, there are plenty of players who earned quite a bit more than they would have without the benefit of an early-career extension, with former Bucs outfielder Jose Tabata being a prime example.
- Meanwhile, John Perrotto of TodaysKnuckleball.com chronicles some of the background considerations and back-and-forth over the years between Polanco and the Pirates. The youngster took his time before finally signing on the dotted line, of course, as there had been reports of negotiations stretching back for over two years. But with the ink now dry, both sides expressed excitement at the arrangement in their press conference announcing the deal.