March 17: The surgery was conducted today and Dr. Andrews says that it went “as expected,” as club executive VP of communications John Blake tweets.
March 13: Rangers ace Yu Darvish will undergo Tommy John surgery next Tuesday, the team announced. Dr. James Andrews will perform the operation in Pensacola, Fla., and Darvish will miss the entire 2015 season.
Clearly the news is a crushing blow to a Rangers team that saw its 2014 hopes dashed by injuries to an unthinkable amount of key players throughout the roster. Prince Fielder, Shin-Soo Choo, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Martin Perez, Mitch Moreland and Alexi Ogando all spent the better part of the season on the disabled list, while elbow inflammation limited Darvish himself to just 144 innings.
Speculation will of course surface that the Rangers could make a play for a big-ticket starter such as Cole Hamels, but GM Jon Daniels has already said that the club’s plans are to “fill from within” in an attempt to replace Darvish. While an external addition cannot be entirely ruled out, it seems more likely that Texas would add someone at the end of Spring Training that is either out of options or has failed to make a different team on a minor league deal (similar to the Braves’ signing of Aaron Harang last year).
While the Rangers can fill Darvish’s roster spot, it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to replace his production. Over the past two seasons, Darvish has pitched to a 2.92 ERA with 11.7 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 354 innings of work out of the Texas rotation. The 28-year-old had established himself as one of the game’s most dominant arms, finishing second in the 2013 AL Cy Young voting. The injury does essentially guarantee that Darvish will not be able to turn the final season of his contract into a player option, which he could have done based on Cy Young incentives, but the outlook for this year’s rotation becomes significantly bleaker. Offseason acquisition Yovani Gallardo will join Holland and Colby Lewis in the rotation. Candidates for the final two slots include Ross Detwiler, Nick Tepesch, Nick Martinez and Anthony Ranaudo. Top prospect Alex Gonzalez may get a crack at the rotation as well.