Homer Bailey Rumors

Injury Notes: Bailey, Cobb, Moore, Holland, Wieters, Iwakuma, Hanley

As expected, Reds starter Homer Bailey underwent Tommy John surgery today, as MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports. Though his previously-repaired flexor mass tendon apepared in good shape, Bailey’s UCL was determined to be completely torn, leaving little in the way of options to avoid surgery.

  • Likewise, Rays righty Alex Cobb was found to have a fully torn UCL, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports, meaning he too was virtually assured to require a TJ procedure. Cobb says the best-case scenario would have him return late in 2016. Fellow Tampa hurler Matt Moore has continued to build his way back from his own UCL replacement, with MLB.com’s Bill Chastain reporting that Moore was able to throw all of his pitches in a live BP session. Moore says he is targeting a mid-June return to the big league bump.
  • Though his shoulder has shown some evidence of progress, Rangers lefty Derek Holland will wait an additional two weeks before he begins throwing, as Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets. Though Texas has enjoyed a somewhat surprising contribution from its starting staff (3.71 ERA, 9th in baseball), peripherals suggest that some regression is forthcoming. Regardless, Holland’s health is critical to the club, both this year and — perhaps even more so — in the future.
  • Orioles catcher Matt Wieters is set to catch seven innings tomorrow as he continues to work fully back from Tommy John surgery, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets. Wieters’ ability to return to health and productivity will go a long way toward determining his free agent earning power next winter, of course. It will also tell on Baltimore’s ability to compete for a postseason slot, though replacement Caleb Joseph has been a revelation.
  • The Mariners appear unlikely to see righty Hisashi Iwakuma return until early June, at the soonest, per Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Manager Lloyd McClendon says that Iwakuma is “probably still two to three weeks from going out [on a rehab assignment]” and will then need to throw a few outings before making it back to the big leagues. As with Wieters, Iwakuma needs to get healthy and show that he can continue to be effective in order to bolster his open market case. The scuffling Mariners, meanwhile, are not only firmly in need of his services, but also must assess whether they will be in the market for rotation help over the summer.
  • Red Sox outfielder Hanley Ramirez is not likely to need a DL stint for his left shoulder sprain, manager John Farrell tells Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). Boston seems to have dodged a bullet with the injury situation, as the club can ill afford an extended absence from the player who has paced the club in hitting thus far.

Injury Notes: Cobb, Magill, Bailey, Ottavino

Here’s the latest on some injury situations around the game, including several pitchers who will face 12-16 months of recovery time from Tommy John surgery…

  • Alex Cobb discussed his injury situation with reporters (including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times) and the Rays righty admitted that he is “still going back and forth on what to do.”  Cobb received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right elbow and will wait a few weeks before testing, though if the procedure doesn’t take, Cobb will have to undergo TJ surgery.  If he waits and has to get the surgery anyway, however, Cobb risks missing all of 2016, whereas if he gets the surgery now, he believes he’ll be able to return late next season.
  • Right-hander Matt Magill will undergo Tommy John surgery tomorrow, according to the Reds‘ official Twitter feed.  Magill’s Major League career consists of six starts for the Dodgers in 2013 that saw him post a 6.51 ERA, 26 strikeouts and 28 walks over 27 2/3 innings.  A 31st-round pick for the Dodgers in the 2008 draft, Magill owns a 3.99 ERA, 8.9 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 over 700 2/3 minor league innings.  He was traded from Los Angeles to Cincinnati in December in exchange for outfielder Chris Heisey.
  • From that same Reds tweet, Homer Bailey will also undergo his own Tommy John surgery tomorrow.
  • Rockies closer Adam Ottavino underwent Tommy John surgery this morning, according to Nick Groke of the Denver Post.  Ottavino was going to get a second opinion to be sure, yet was fully expecting to get the operation to repair his partially torn UCL.

Homer Bailey To Undergo Tommy John Surgery

Reds starter Homer Bailey will undergo Tommy John surgery, the club announced. Cincinnati expects him to return during the 2016 season, per the announcement.

Bailey had missed the tail end of last year after needing surgery to repair a torn flexor mass tendon in his right arm. The 2014 campaign was something of a disappointment even before that point. While Bailey was effective enough, he failed to build off of a strong 2013 and seemed to be settling in more as a sturdy option than a top-of-the-rotation arm.

Now, Bailey’s arm troubles have clouded even that downgraded status. He was able to make it back early this season, but was throwing his average fastball at about 3 mph less than he had been over the last two seasons. With only three strikeouts in 11 1/3 frames, things were already not looking up when Bailey hit the DL.

While Tommy John surgery is obviously far from a death knell to a player’s career, neither is it a minor event. In Bailey’s case, it is particularly concerning given that he already underwent one surgery and has already shown a velocity decline. Then there’s the fact that he will not be back until next summer at the earliest, meaning that Cincinnati will not see any on-field production for its investment during that time.

The real issue for the Reds, of course, relates to Bailey’s contract. While the deal’s first year basically ratified an already-inevitable arbitration salary, the rest represented new money that kept the righty from testing free agency. Cincinnati still owes Bailey $86MM over 2016 through 2019, which includes the buyout of a mutual option for 2020, and it is increasingly unclear whether the club will get anything close to the expected value for that sum.

 



Injury Notes: Medlen, Mesoraco, Bailey, Fernandez, Rendon, Janssen, Verlander, Nathan

Injuries remain perhaps the largest driver of needs in the early part of the season — a topic that MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes and I explored in today’s podcast with respect to starting pitching. Let’s have a look at some key injury situations around the game:

  • Rehabbing Royals starter Kris Medlen is headed to extended Spring Training to begin throwing against live batters, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports. That leaves him on track for a rehab assignment in May. Kansas City has $8.5MM riding on the righty’s ability to return to form after his second Tommy John surgery.
  • The Reds are missing two key cogs in backstop Devin Mesoraco and righty Homer Bailey. As Michael Hunt reports for MLB.com, manager Bryan Price says that Mesoraco — still not on the DL despite a 17-game absence from his usual catching duties — is still not ready “to try it out just yet,” adding that Mesoraco is “coming along slowly.” There are longer-term concerns with regard to Bailey, of course, and surgery is said to be on the table. “We’re probably going to know in the next one-to-two days what our plans are with Homer,” Price said. “You spend a lot of time when you make a diagnosis, fact-finding and making sure everything you see is as it appears. That’s been the time consumer, making sure it is what we think it is and finding the best way to treat it.”
  • Marlins starter Jose Fernandez is working his way back from Tommy John surgery, of course, and recently faced hitters in a live BP session for the first time. You can check out the video of his outing, courtesy of FOX Sports Florida.
  • After a pause in his rehab, Nationals infielder Anthony Rendon is preparing for another Double-A appearance in the coming days, MLB.com’s Bill Ladson reports. The issue has not been with his knee, which caused him to hit the DL to start the year, but with tightness in his side. That’s good news for the club, obviously, as is the fact that reliever Casey Janssen appeared in an extended spring game. He is set to begin his own run up through the minors in short order, per Ladson.
  • Injured Tigers starter Justin Verlander is set for a third MRI on his right triceps area early next week, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports (Twitter links). Meanwhile, reliever Joe Nathan underwent his Tommy John procedure yesterday, Fenech tweets, with Nathan saying that it went well. It figures to be a long road back for the 40-year-old, but indications are that he’ll try to return to the big leagues.

Homer Bailey On DL With Potentially Serious Elbow Injury

APRIL 29: The Reds have moved Bailey to the 60-day DL, per a club announcement.

APRIL 28: One alternative to surgery for Bailey is a platelet-rich plasma injection, writes Fay. Price mentioned the possibility when discussing Bailey’s status with reporters today. As Fay notes, right-hander Carlos Contreras, who was called up to the Majors to replace Bailey, avoided Tommy John surgery in 2010 by undergoing a PRP.

APRIL 27: Reds starter Homer Bailey was placed on the DL today with what the club is calling a right elbow ligament sprain. Manager Bryan Price indicated that the injury could be serious, as John Fay and C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer were among those to report (Twitter links).

Price did not offer a precise diagnosis or timetable, but did not express much optimism. “He certainly won’t be pitching here in the near future,” said Price. He added: “It’s messy and unbelievably unfortunate both for him as an individual and for our ball club.”

Bailey suffered a torn flexor mass tendon late last year, undergoing surgery in early September. The right-hander rehabbed and returned after missing just a few starts to open 2015, but it now seems that return may be short-lived.

In his two outings this year, Bailey lasted 11 1/3 innings but compiled just three strikeouts against four walks while permitting seven earned runs to cross the plate. An even more troubling trend from the early going is a marked velocity decline. Bailey had thrown his fastball at an average rate of just over 94 mph over each of the last two seasons, but was clocking a mean offering of just 91 mph in 2015.

The news is deeply concerning for a Cincinnati club that already has its share of short-term and long-term issues. Bailey was one of several pitchers nearing free agency when the team locked him up to a six-year, $105MM deal before last season.

Bailey earned that payday with two straight 200+ inning seasons, including a strong 2013 performance. He threw well enough last year, even if he did not continue to progress, before going down to injury.

All involved certainly hoped for a quick return to form this season, but that seems increasingly out of reach. Beyond the present season, the Reds are obligated to pay Bailey $86MM from 2016-19 (including the buyout on a 2020 mutual option) under the backloaded deal structure that was agreed to.


Reds To Promote Michael Lorenzen

The Reds will promote right-hander Michael Lorenzen to take a start on Wednesday, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets. The 23-year-old was taken in the first round of the 2013 draft.

Michael Lorenzen

Lorenzen entered the season rated as the game’s 63rd-best overall prospect in the eyes of Baseball Prospectus, while Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel ranked him 88th. He was a position player and closer in college, and built up relatively few innings before jumping to 120 2/3 Double-A frames last year. But they were good ones: he posted a 3.13 ERA with 6.3 K/9 against 3.3 BB/9.

Thus far in 2015, Lorenzen has allowed just six earned runs over 19 innings covering three starts. He has just 12 strikeouts in that span, hardly a dominant rate, but has only permitted four free passes.

As McDaniel explains, Lorenzen has already pleasantly surprised with the rapidity of his development and may yet have some ceiling to strive for. The Reds will once again push him forward fairly aggressively, now by asking him to step in for the injured Homer Bailey at the game’s highest level.

If he keeps his roster spot for the rest of the year, Lorenzen will be in good shape to quality down the road for Super Two status. While that would obviously enhance his earning power, he would still be controllable for six seasons after 2015.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Central Notes: Francona, Bailey, Bryant

Indians manager Terry Francona relates an entertaining story about contracts and signing bonuses that goes back two generations, via Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer. Francona’s father, former big-league outfielder Tito, was trying to get a better deal from the Tigers in 1958, telling team GM John McHale he needed more money because his wife was pregnant. “That’s not my problem,” McHale responded. The baby, of course, was Terry, and McHale was president of the Expos 22 years later when they picked him in the first round of the 1980 draft. Tito acted as Terry’s agent and negotiated a $100K bonus. He then called McHale. “Remember when my wife was pregnant and I wanted a raise,” he said. “Well, that baby is Terry and he just cost you $100,000!” Here’s more from the Central divisions.

  • The Reds have reinstated starter Homer Bailey (elbow) from the disabled list and optioned reliever Pedro Villarreal to Triple-A Louisville, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets. Bailey’s start against the Cardinals on Saturday will be his first since last August. Bailey pitched reasonably well in 2014 when he was available, and he’s in the second year of a $105MM contract, so the Reds will depend on him to be productive yet again.
  • Cubs Triple-A infielder Chris Valaika is confident Kris Bryant will be successful in the big leagues, although he’s undoubtedly facing a new challenge, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat writes. “Everything’s escalated, the media presence doesn’t go away, and the game is crisper — it’s the big leagues for a reason,” says Valaika. “Those guys are the best of the best. They find a weakness and they exploit it until you close that hole. He will make adjustments, they will find a new one, and he will close it again.”

Homer Bailey To Undergo Forearm Surgery

Reds starter Homer Bailey will undergo surgery tomorrow on his right forearm to repair a flexor mass tendon tear, the club announced on Twitter. He is expected to be ready in time for the spring, according to a report from C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer, who says the injury has been deemed a similar but less-severe version of that which afflicted what recently-dealt reliever Jonathan Broxton.

Needless to say, this is not how the 28-year-old — and, even less so, his team — hoped to see this season end. Bailey inked a six-year, $105MM extension before the 2014 campaign, a significant investment for a mid-market club that has already locked up several core players and had to choose carefully in making commitments to its best arms.

After a rough start to 2014, Bailey had settled in and begun to produce at the level that was expected when he inked his new deal. On the year, he owns a 3.71 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 to go with a career-best 50.6% groundball rate.

While any arm surgery is cause for concern for a pitcher, this particular injury and procedure do not appear to be as momentous as a UCL replacement. (If Bailey is expected to be prepared for the start of Spring Training, that would imply a recovery time of not more than six months.) Of course, forearm issues can be precursors to more serious injuries to the elbow and shoulder, so Cincinnati will surely handle its high-priced starter with care.


NL Notes: Bailey, Gray, Diamondbacks

Here’s the latest out of the National League …

  • The Reds are discussing the possibility of a surgical option for injured hurler Homer Bailey, as MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon writes. Bailey, playing out the first year of a six-year, $105MM extension, is dealing with a flexor mass tendon strain in his right forearm. It appears that a surgery would have a shorter recovery time than would, say, a UCL replacement, but manager Bryan Price emphasized that the decision would likely be made in relatively short order to avoid undue delay.
  • Top Rockies prospect Jon Gray has been shut down after experiencing shoulder fatigue, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports. An MRI came back clean, and Gray says that he has felt good in bullpen sessions, which certainly reduces concern. It seems, however, that Colorado is likely to hold their prized righty out of game action until next spring. Presumably, Gray — and fellow top young arm Eddie Butler — will have a chance to join the Rockies rotation early next year.
  • Results on recent trades have not favored the Diamondbacks, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Though most of the deals have not been disastrous, in Piecoro’s estimation, the failed Justin Upton swap has had lingering negative effects — and now looks worse than it did after the one-year mark. At present, the Braves have achieved an additional 5.3 rWAR and 7.3 fWAR from their end of the deal (Upton and Chris Johnson), as against the production of the since-traded Martin Prado and Randall Delgado, Zeke Spruill, and Nick Ahmed. As Piecoro notes, there is still some time for the tally to creep back in Arizona’s favor, particularly since prospects Brandon Drury and Peter O’Brien (the latter of whom was obtained for Prado) still could provide value.

Rosenthal On Reds, Latos, Tomas, Gregorius

The Reds had yet to place any of their starting pitchers on waivers as of Saturday morning, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports in his weekly “Full Count” video. As Rosenthal notes, their waiver status may be a moot point, as each would likely be claimed and subsequently pulled back. More highlights regarding the Reds and the rest of the league below…

  • The real drama surrounding the Reds‘ rotation could come this offseason, as Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake and Alfredo Simon will all be entering their final year of team control. The Reds will have to decide which, if any, they want to sign to a long-term deal, and Rosenthal notes that they will likely trade “at least” one. Latos is perhaps the likeliest candidate to be dealt, according to Rosenthal, who notes that both Latos and Cueto would command more than Homer Bailey‘s six-year, $105MM contract.
  • Rusney Castillo‘s six-year, $72.5MM contract with the Red Sox might not stand as the largest deal for a Cuban free agent very long. Yasmani Tomas is expected to be cleared as a free agent this offseason, and his huge raw power will be highly appealing, even if he is limited to left field, defensively speaking. As Rosenthal points out, Tomas is four years younger than Castillo and is against a crop of weak free agent bats. One executive that spoke with Rosenthal said the only flaw he sees in Castillo is his propensity to swing and miss.
  • Rosenthal points back to a report of his prior to the trade deadline in which he had learned that the Nationals were looking for a young shortstop on the trade market. He’s now learned that Didi Gregorius of the Diamondbacks was one of their targets. Washington had planned on playing Gregorius at second base in the near-term and moving him back over to shortstop if Ian Desmond could not be retained. Of course, the club still wants to extend Desmond, who is a free agent following the 2015 season.