Jhonny Peralta is back with the Cardinals after being activated from the disabled list, though Peralta told reporters (including Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch) that he’ll have to adjust to being a part-time player for the first time in his career. “Everybody is doing good and the team — we’re in second place,” Peralta said. “I understand the situation but it’s kind of hard for me to be on the bench and not play every day, because I know what kind of player I can be….I need to learn to be ready for whatever time or situation it is in the game.” Peralta was a productive starter for the Cards as recently as the 2015 season, though an injury-plagued 2016 opened the door for Aledmys Diaz and Jedd Gyorko to emerge, and those two have now established themselves as the Cardinals’ regulars at shortstop and third base. Peralta, who turns 35 later this month, is in the final year of a four-year, $53MM contract and is owed roughly $7.4MM for the remainder of the season. A trade could be difficult to work given this remaining salary and Peralta’s lack of recent production, though if Peralta is able to get somewhat back into form, he’ll give the Cards some solid veteran infield depth.
Here’s more from around the NL Central…
- Jason Heyward expects to be activated from the 10-day DL today, which creates an interesting roster decision for the Cubs, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat writes. Top prospect Ian Happ has looked spectacular since being promoted last week and could stick with the club, through manager Joe Maddon said that the team wants Happ to get regular action wherever he plays, which could be somewhat difficult on Chicago’s crowded big league roster. “That’s what happens when you’re good is you have tough decisions,” Maddon said. “The fact that Ian has come up and done so well makes it even more difficult. We’ll try to figure it out and make our best guess.” Happ brings a lot of versatility as a switch-hitter and a multi-positional player, so the Cubs could get him playing time in a variety of roles and instead demote another bench option such as Tommy La Stella or Albert Almora. Heyward has missed two weeks due to a sprained right index finger, and was already back in the Cubs’ clubhouse after completing a one-game rehab stint in the minors.
- The incentive bonuses for Scott Feldman and Drew Storen are broken down by Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer, as Storen has already reached his first incentive threshold (15 appearances) and Feldman will access his bonus money on Monday when he makes his 10th start of the season. Feldman will earn $100K for that outing, and then another $100K or $200K for each successive start thereafter, up to 25 starts. The righty also has extra cash available in relief incentives, though Feldman isn’t likely to be moved out of the Reds rotation anytime soon, due to both his own solid performance (a 4.29 ERA in 50 1/3 IP) and Cincy’s lack of healthy alternatives. Storen has pitched very well out of the Reds bullpen and is in great shape to earn his $750K in available incentives for appearances, though attaining his games-finished bonuses could be difficult with Raisel Iglesias locked in at closer.
- With the Pirates in last place and facing an uphill battle in the NL Central race, Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com argues that the Bucs should deal Gerrit Cole while the right-hander’s trade value is at its highest. Cole is looking healthy after an injury-shortened 2016 and is pitching well, with a 2.84 ERA, 7.9 K/9, 50.3% grounder rate and 4.17 K/BB rate through 57 innings. Between this front-of-the-rotation production and Cole being under team control through 2019, the Pirates would stand to obtain a major haul if Cole was dealt. Gammons speculates that the Astros and Yankees would be the top two suitors, as they have enough minor league depth to afford the big price tag Pittsburgh would demand for Cole’s services.