Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco suffered left knee and left shoulder injuries Friday that will force him to miss the rest of the season, the team announced. Polanco incurred “a significant bone bruise in his left knee,” one that will require six to eight weeks of rehab. The severity of his shoulder ailment isn’t clear at this time.
At 70-71 and eight games behind an NL wild-card spot, the Pirates are essentially out of playoff contention as the regular season nears an end. Nevertheless, this is a concerning development for Pittsburgh, for which Polanco is a cornerstone player. The Pirates signed Polanco to a five-year, $35MM extension entering 2016, and he has largely lived up to that deal. Polanco struggled in 2017, though he has still managed a respectable 5.4 fWAR since signing the pact.
The 26-year-old Polanco made major progress this season, as he posted personal-best numbers on the offensive side, hitting .254/.340/.499 (123 wRC+) with 23 home runs, a .245 ISO and an 11.4 percent walk rate in 534 plate appearances. He also stole 12 bases on 14 attempts. While Polanco did not grade well as a defender (minus-5 DRS, minus-1.5 UZR), his season will nonetheless end with a solid 2.5 fWAR.
Based on the timetable for Polanco’s left knee, this injury shouldn’t affect him in 2019 or necessarily inform the Pirates’ outfield plans for next season. His shoulder may be another story, however, and Pittsburgh’s not yet in position to divulge specific information on that injury.