10:50pm: Smith had the operation earlier today, tweets Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald.
9:21am: Red Sox reliever Carson Smith will require season-ending Tommy John surgery, the club has announced. It’s a big blow for Boston and the young reliever, who was acquired from the Mariners over the winter.
Smith, 26, had missed the start of the season with what was diagnosed as a flexor strain, but returned to throw 2 2/3 scoreless frames for the club. That was all, though, as he experienced elbow discomfort and was soon forced back to the disabled list. Things ultimately turned out worse than had been hoped, as a visit to Dr. David Altchek resulted in a decision to replace Smith’s ulnar collateral ligament.
Boston shipped sturdy left-handed starter Wade Miley and right-hander Jonathan Aro to Seattle to add Smith and fellow southpaw Roenis Elias, in hopes that Smith provide another high-end option at the back of the ’pen after a breakout 2015 campaign. At the time, there was no particular reason to believe that he was at much greater risk than any other pitcher. The recent study of MLBTR contributor Bradley Woodrum put Smith at only a slightly above-average statistical risk of needing a TJ procedure.
Losing Smith for the duration of this season, and at least a good portion of next, is obviously disappointing. But it’s still quite possible for Boston to redeem value on the swap. Smith entered this season with just over one year of MLB service, so he can be kept at the league minimum next year, will cost just a shade more in 2018, and can be controlled through 2020.
Smith was supposed to join Craig Kimbrel, Koji Uehara, and Junichi Tazawa at the back of a stacked Red Sox pen. The unit still looks like a good one, and that late-inning trio is better than most, but it’s certainly possible to imagine Boston looking at relief options as the trade deadline rolls around.