The Angels announced on Tuesday that right fielder Kole Calhoun will undergo surgery to repair a “bilateral core muscle injury” today. The operation comes with a recovery timeline of six to eight weeks, after which the Halos are anticipating a normal offseason. Per the announcement, the team expects Calhoun to be ready for Spring Training.
Calhoun, 28, enjoyed yet another quietly excellent season, further building on his resume as a highly productive but largely unheralded talent. The soon-to-be 29-year-old (Friday) posted a very solid .271/.348/.438 batting line with 18 homers, 35 doubles and five triples this season while also posting career-best walk (10 percent) and strikeout rates (17.6 percent). In addition to his quality work at the plate — Calhoun has batted .267/.329/.438 and averaged 23 homers per 162 games over the past four seasons — the former eighth-round pick rates as an above-average defender in right field by measure of both Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved, and he’s also notched positive baserunning contributions on a yearly basis, per Fangraphs.
Calhoun’s strong all-around play has him in line for a projected salary of $6.9MM in 2017, per MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz — a sizable raise from the $3.4MM payday he took home last winter when his service time landed him directly on the Super Two cutoff. He’s controllable for another three seasons via the arbitration process and serves as a reminder of the potential financial importance that Super Two status carries for players. Relatively comparable outfielders to Calhoun such as Marcell Ozuna and Wil Myers are projected at $4.5MM and $4.7MM, respectively, but Calhoun has topped each by more than $2MM in projected earning capacity after already banking $3.4MM despite being in the same service class. That level of additional earning power is a driving factor behind many teams’ decisions to hold off on promoting their top prospects until June, as the earnings will only compound over time. (Calhoun’s 2018 raise will now be based off a $6.9MM salary as opposed to something in the mid-$4MM range.)
Of course, the Angels will hope that there are no lingering effects from the core muscle operation that Calhoun will undergo. While core muscle surgery is not uncommon, Calhoun’s is listed as bilateral in nature, indicating that there are multiple areas in need of repair. And we’ve seen recent examples of such an operation having a lasting impact on players throughout the course of the season immediately following the surgery (Justin Verlander in 2014, Denard Span in 2015), even if that level of ripple effect isn’t necessarily the norm. The fact that he’s undergoing the procedure so early in the offseason certainly bodes well for him and the Angels, though, as Calhoun will have virtually the entire offseason to recover. (Verlander and Span, on the other hand, had their respective surgeries in early January and early March.)