Angels righty Garrett Richards has elected not to undergo Tommy John surgery at this time, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports (Twitter links). He’ll receive a stem-cell therapy treatment on his elbow, take a six week hiatus, and attempt to rehab his injured right elbow.
That’s promising news for the Halos, who desperately need their staff ace back in action. It’s not yet clear what kind of timetable might be hoped for, and there remains a good bit of uncertainty in how quickly Richards can return to the hill and work his way back to the majors.
Of course, there’s also likely some risk entailed. Richards had been said to be headed toward a UCL replacement after being diagnosed with a fairly significant tear. If he ultimately does require surgery, then his prospective return could be delayed rather substantially by waiting. But as Gonzalez notes, it is possible that he’d have missed all or most of 2017 regardless, depending upon the speed of his recovery.
Richards, 27, was off to an excellent beginning to the 2016 campaign after taking a step back last year. He had thrown 34 2/3 innings of 2.34 ERA ball, with 8.8 K/9 against 3.9 BB/9. That performance was more reminiscent of Richards’s breakout 2014, and he was clearly the best-performing arm in an underwhelming and injury-riddled Angels rotation.
Los Angeles owes Richards $6.425MM this year in his second of four seasons of arbitration eligibility. He’ll likely be in line for at least some increase over that amount heading into 2017, and can still earn more if he’s able to return to the mound. Of course, if he ultimately has the TJ procedure, then the club will face a tough decision as to whether to tender him a contract for 2017, all just to pay another large salary for his final season of eligibility in 2018.