10:08pm: Rangers executive vice president of communications John Blake announced tonight that Kela will indeed undergo surgery to remove the bone spur. Kela will have the operation tomorrow, and Wilson tweets that he’ll be out for three months.
4:17pm: Rangers setup man Keone Kela is headed to the disabled list with an impingement in his right elbow, the club announced today. Right-hander Phil Klein will be recalled from Triple-A Round Rock to take Kela’s spot on the 25-man roster. Both Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News (links to Twitter) and Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (link) have tweeted that surgery seems likely Kela, with Grant suggesting a 12-week timeline for his recovery. That would sideline Kela past the All-Star break and mark a significant hit to the Rangers’ bullpen. Wilson does tweet that the Rangers are confident that there is no damage to Kela’s ulnar collateral ligament, making Tommy John surgery unlikely.
Kela, who just turned 23, had an excellent rookie season with the Rangers in 2015, logging a 2.39 ERA with 10.1 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and a 50.6 percent ground-ball rate. This particular issue dates back to last season, Grant tweets, as Kela was diagnosed with the bone spur in September but elected to undergo a platelet-rich plasma injection to alleviate the pain. Per Grant, general manager Jon Daniels gets the impression that “[Kela] wants to feel 100 percent” this time around.
As I noted in reviewing the Rangers’ offseason, the club has amassed a deep stock of bullpen talent, so the Rangers are at least well-equipped to handle the loss of their outstanding setup man. In addition to closer Shawn Tolleson, the Rangers have Sam Dyson, Jake Diekman, Tom Wilhelmsen and an intriguing upside play in right-hander Tony Barnette, who was signed out of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball this offseason. The Rangers had enough relief depth that they were rumored to be discussing a swap of a bullpen arm for a fifth starter with the Indians late in Spring Training, although with Kela potentially missing three months, it seems fortuitous that a deal never came to fruition.