Yankees righty Bryan Mitchell underwent toe surgery yesterday and is expected to miss “at least” four months of the coming season, manager Joe Girardi told reporters, including MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch (Twitter link). It wasn’t clear previously whether Mitchell would require a procedure after fracturing his toe at the end of camp.
While New York had already absorbed the news of Mitchell’s absence for the first half of the year, the fact that he had to go under the knife appears to extend the timeline for a return. Initial reports suggested a minimum three-month absence, but now the 24-year-old will need to recover and rehab from the surgery.
At this point, it seems, the Yankees are unlikely to have a chance to see Mitchell back in action before the trade deadline. If the team is in position and has pitching needs, that may help tilt the needle towards an outside addition.
Mitchell was viewed as an important piece of a pitching staff that has some health questions in the rotation and potential depth concerns in the pen. He likely would have played a significant middle relief role to open the year, while remaining available as a rotation option if a need arose.
Though he was never a hyped prospect, the former 16th-round pick has shown some interesting skills early in his major league career. He lit up the radar gun and showed the ability to miss some bats in a relief role last year, though his walks are a concern and he didn’t fare well in the earned run department. Mitchell had shown well this spring, permitting just one earned run in 14 2/3 frames while posting an 11:1 K:BB ratio.