Angels starters Garrett Richards and Andrew Heaney are receiving mixed results from their stem-cell therapy treatments, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports. It’s ultimately too soon to know whether either or both will require Tommy John surgery, per GM Billy Eppler, but they have progressed somewhat differently to this point.
The right-handed Richards has experienced some “progressive healing” in his UCL, whereas Heaney’s left elbow has not. Richards is set for his next follow-up in six weeks, with Heaney getting looked at sooner, but Gonzalez suggests there’s not much hope that either will return in 2016 even in the best case scenario.
Eppler made clear that the decisions about the TJ procedure will be made before this season ends. That would ensure that the pitchers can undertake a full recovery timeline and return for the 2018 season. Ultimately, per Eppler, the starters will need to build up to “competitively throwing pitches of consequence” before a final determination can be made.
Needless to say, the progress of these two pitchers is critical to the team’s plans. Coming into the year, they were expected to front the staff for years to come. Even if it’s unrealistic to expect any significant contribution this year, the question remains whether either will be available in 2017.
In Richards’ case, too, difficult arbitration questions loom. He is earning $6.425MM this year in his first season of arb eligibility, and figures to command at least a slight raise after contributing 34 2/3 quality innings. If he’s out for all of next year, then, Los Angeles might be left deciding whether to pay him something on the order of $15MM for the 2018 campaign, with no guarantees of how he’d bounce back from the TJ procedure. It is worth noting that teams have acted creatively to deal with such matters; the Rockies recently extended reliever Adam Ottavino during his rehab, and the White Sox did the same with Nate Jones, with the teams capturing some upside as the players avoided uncertainty.
Meanwhile, the Halos got yet more middling news on lefty C.J. Wilson. He’s going in for another opinion as his shoulder continues to fail to respond to efforts to get back to the big leagues. “It seems like it’s not firing the way he wants it to fire,” said Eppler. It’s far from clear that the 35-year-old will appear again before his contract expires a year’s end.