The Athletics had been holding out hope for Henderson Alvarez pitching for the team in September, but manager Bob Melvin said on Tuesday that Alvarez will not pitch for the A’s in 2016 due to further setbacks in his return from 2015 shoulder surgery, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. Alvarez’s rehab stint with Class-A Stockton was cut short recently, and he’ll head to Dr. James Andrews to have his shoulder evaluated, with the possibility of second shoulder operation looming, per Slusser. She adds that a second surgery could prevent Alvarez from pitching in 2017 as well.
Alvarez, 26, was non-tendered by the Marlins last offseason. While some questioned the wisdom of cutting a young starter that was only projected to earn about $4MM via arbitration and had two years of control remaining, the decision looks prudent with the benefit of hindsight. Alvarez missed much of the 2015 campaign with shoulder problems, and while he was excellent during his last healthy season — 2.65 ERA, 5.3 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 53.8 percent ground-ball rate in 187 innings in 2014 — he’s now two years removed from that strong performance.
Even if Alvarez is able to avoid a second shoulder surgery, he remains a non-tender candidate after being largely unable to take the field for the past two seasons. He’s earning $4.25MM after signing a one-year deal with Oakland this winter, and the least the A’s could offer him would be 80 percent of that amount, or $3.4MM.
Beyond the unfortunate news regarding Alvarez, Slusser writes that neither Sonny Gray nor Andrew Triggs is likely to return to the Athletics’ rotation this year. Gray has been sidelined by a right forearm strain for the past month and has yet to progress to flat-ground work, according to Slusser. He’s struggled for much of the season, spending time on the DL with a strained trapezius muscle in addition to his current forearm injury. A Cy Young contender in 2015, Gray has tossed just 116 innings with a 5.74 ERA this year due largely to a massive spike in his home run rate.
Triggs, on the other hand, exited his most recent start with back pain. While hardly a household name, the March waiver claim has posted a quietly solid year in Oakland, tossing 56 1/3 innings of 4.31 ERA ball with 8.8 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and a 50.9 percent ground-ball rate. ERA estimators like FIP, xFIP and SIERA all peg Triggs for an ERA in the 3.30 range moving forward, and his quality work this season could very well have forced his way into the Oakland rotation plans in 2017.