Padres righty Colin Rea underwent Tommy John surgery yesterday, according to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune (via Twitter). Rea had been attempting to avoid the surgery with a platelet-rich plasma treatment and rehab, but the decision was made to go ahead after he felt discomfort after a throwing session.
There had increasingly been hope that Rea would be able to return for the start of 2017, but the best case now is for him to make it back for the 2018 campaign. Of course, that would have been the expectation had he gone under the knife earlier, though perhaps now there’s a bit less wiggle room in his forthcoming rehab. Initial reports were that he was destined for a replacement of his ulnar collateral ligament in the middle of the season, but that was re-considered — influenced, perhaps, by the progress shown by Angels righty Garrett Richards in a non-surgical approach.
The 26-year-old’s situation was rather more complicated than that, of course. As has been discussed at length, Rea was sent by the Padres to the Marlins at the trade deadline in a multi-player pact. But he exited his first outing in Miami with elbow issues, teeing off a scandal of sorts that led to him being shipped back to the Padres. In related proceedings arising out of San Diego’s medical practices, club GM A.J. Preller ultimately served a thirty-game suspension for reporting issues that the organization has pledged to remedy.
Without Rea, the Padres’ rotation needs are more evident than ever. San Diego already seemed a likely landing spot for an arm or two. Without expectations of contention, expectations are that the club may look into some riskier, higher-upside assets on this winter’s player acquisition market.
Rea is set to reach arbitration eligibility before the 2019 season, so he’ll have a chance to post a platform year before hitting the arb cycle. Certainly, his earning opportunity will be limited by the inability to rack up innings in the second half of 2016 and all of 2017. The Padres will hope that he can return to health and improve upon the 4.69 ERA he posted over his first 134 1/3 major league frames.