Cardinals infielder/outfielder Brendan Donovan is set to undergo season-ending surgery tomorrow, per Katie Woo of The Athletic. Donovan has been dealing with a flexor tendon injury in his throwing arm recently, which had prevented him from throwing and relegated him to DH duties. Per Jeff Jones of the Belleville News-Democrat, Donovan should be ready to return from the surgery to correct that flexor strain before Spring Training 2024.
Donovan, 26, immediately made an impression upon making his big league debut with the Cardinals last season. He slashed a strong .281/.394/.379 in 126 games for the club, goo for a wRC+ of 129, while playing quality defense at all four infield spots and both outfield corners. That quality defense and versatility earned him a Gold Glove award last year, and those skills along with his knack for getting on base allowed him to finish third in NL Rookie of the Year award voting.
The 26-year-old utility ace took a slight step back at the plate in his sophomore season as he discipline for additional power. His walk rate dipped from a sterling 12.8% to a more pedestrian 8.9% this season, though his ISO ticked up from just .097 last year up to a more respectable .138 during the current campaign. That increase in power combined with his trademark versatility has allowed him to remain an above-average regular this year, with 2.1 fWAR in 371 trips to the plate.
Unfortunately, Donovan’s 2023 campaign has come to a premature end thanks to the aforementioned flexor strain, an ailment that prevented him from taking the field for nearly the entire month of July. The loss of Donovan for the season further damages the competitiveness of a Cardinals club that has already shipped out Jordan Montgomery, Jordan Hicks, Chris Stratton, and Paul DeJong out this trade season, with more deals expected before the deadline.
As things stand, the club figures to utilize Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Gorman, Tommy Edman, and Nolan Arenado in the infield with Jordan Walker, Alec Burleson, Lars Nootbaar, Tyler O’Neill, and Dylan Carlson all in the outfield/DH mix, though further trades ahead of the deadline could change that playing time picture.