The Cardinals are sending two significant players in for surgical procedures, as ESPN.com’s Mark Saxon reports (Twitter links). Outfielder Matt Holliday needs to go under the knife to repair his recently fractured thumb, while reliever Seth Maness requires Tommy John surgery for his elbow injury.
Though neither result is particularly surprising at this point, they will nonetheless tell. Any hope of a quicker-than-usual return from Holliday now seems to be gone. And Maness will miss not only the remainder of the 2016 campaign, but likely all of next year as well. St. Louis has been hit hard by injuries of late, with a host of notable players camped out on the DL — as shown in the team’s updated depth chart.
The 36-year-old Holliday is under-performing his historical results. Last year’s big question — where did his power go? — has been answered with a .451 slugging percentage and 19 home runs. But Holliday is reaching base at a .315 clip that is well off his typical rate. That doesn’t mean he’ll be easy to replace, of course, but Stephen Piscotty, Randal Grichuk, and Tommy Pham all represent viable right-handed-hitting outfield options. And there still appears to be some hope that Holliday can make it back late in the season, which would also make him available for a potential post-season run.
Dealing with the loss of Maness is, in some ways, even more interesting. He, too, has fallen shy of expectations — though he carries a 3.41 ERA, it has come with a diving K/BB rate and fastball velocity. But St. Louis is increasingly thin on reliable setup options. MLBTR’s ranking of the top August trade chips includes several solid right-handed relievers, led perhaps by David Robertson and also including Jeanmar Gomez. Though it’s certainly possible that St. Louis won’t look for quite so impactful an addition, there’s certainly an argument to be made that the team needs to supplement a late-inning mix that is currently headed by the surprisingly excellent Seung Hwan Oh and veteran Jonathan Broxton.
Both of these injuries also come with significant future implications. Holliday’s $17MM club option looks increasingly unlikely to be exercised, though it’s hard to guess at this point how the Cards will view the situation. His possible late-season return could play a role, though odds are the organization already has a fair idea of how it will proceed with a player who has been nothing shy of outstanding during his tenure in St. Louis.
Maness, too, could conceivably end up departing the organization early in the offseason. He’s playing on a $1.4MM deal as a Super Two this year, and will earn a raise for next year based upon his work thus far. St. Louis would need to commit to paying him for both 2017 and 2018 in hopes that he’d be back at full strength for the latter of those two campaigns. The team would still stand to control him for one more year beyond that, but it is still a rather large commitment given the injury and recent struggles.