With all due respect to Carter Capps, it looks like we have our first major injury of spring training.
Jhonny Peralta suffered a left thumb injury on Saturday. Early indications are that he tore a ligament, could miss 2-3 months.
— Jenifer Langosch (@LangoschMLB) March 7, 2016
The Cardinals have a good team, and are looking to contend again this year, but they don’t have a lot of organization depth at shortstop, and were counting on Peralta to play everyday. Barring a future move, this injury likely pushes Jedd Gyorko from a utility role into the starting line-up, which isn’t a position the Cardinals wanted to find themselves in. Not only is Gyorko not really a shortstop, losing him off the bench would mean taking away Kolten Wong‘s platoon partner, weakening the team against lefties even more than simply swapping out Peralta for Gyorko would suggest.
While the gap between Peralta and Wong at shortstop over a full season is probably only 2-3 wins, and it sounds like Peralta will only miss about half the season, this seems like the kind of injury that should encourage the Cardinals to make a move for outside help. For one, the Cardinals can’t really afford to just surrender a win, given the fight the NL Wild Card race is shaping up to be, not to mention how good the Cubs are likely to be this year. And this isn’t a team that is built to just say “let’s get them next year”, as veterans like Adam Wainwright, Matt Holliday, and Yadier Molina aren’t getting any younger. The Cardinals need to maximize their chances of winning in 2016, and running Gyorko out at shortstop for a few months is at odds with that goal.
Unfortunately for St. Louis, the injury occurred a week after Ian Desmond and Jimmy Rollins signed as free agents, so there’s no easy solution sitting around looking for a job. On the trade market, Erick Aybar would seem to be a potential fit, as the Braves don’t really need a walk-year shortstop during their rebuild, but they don’t have any internal replacements ready, so Atlanta might not be keen on giving up their only decent option. The Mets have infield depth, with Ruben Tejada and Wilmer Flores both set to serve as reserves this year, but they might not be interested in helping an NL contender stay in the race.
The Cardinals have a long history of finding hidden gems, but unless they know something about Gyorko’s defense that no one else does, this could be a pretty big blow. Talking the Braves out of Aybar seems like the best option available at the moment, at least from my perspective.
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