There were some conflicting indications today about what the Indians can expect from outfielder Michael Brantley in 2017. Jon Heyman of Fan Rag cited sources who suggested that Brantley was at risk of “miss[ing] significant time next year” after undergoing shoulder surgery, but that’s not quite how the team sees it.
Both Brantley and Cleveland president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti contested the idea that such a scenario was likely, as Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer reports. “I’m out again?” Brantley queried. “Maybe he knows something I don’t.”
Antonetti reiterated, as he had to Heyman, that the team has not learned anything that would change the initial timeline. Doctors have indicated that the star outfielder would need four to five months to recover from his mid-August surgery date, which would leave him ready to go for Spring Training.
Of course, there still seems to be a fair bit of uncertainty in Brantley’s situation. After all, it had been expected that he’d return to full health for the majority of the 2016 campaign, but the 29-year-old appeared in only 11 games. While it seems there’s hope that the full scope of his shoulder troubles have been identified and addressed, he isn’t exactly dealing with a straightforward issue.
Cleveland has rather remarkably succeeded without Brantley, arguably the team’s best position player, but that doesn’t make him any less important moving forward. He is guaranteed just one more season under his previous extension, with the Indians also possessing a $11MM option (with a $1MM buyout) over his 2018 campaign.