5:30pm: Braves righty Aaron Blair has undergone shoulder surgery, per a team announcement. The precise nature of the procedure, which was performed by Dr. James Andrews, has yet to be disclosed.
Blair, who’s still just 25, has largely struggled since going to the Atlanta organization in the oft-discussed swap that sent Shelby Miller to the Diamondbacks. While two other key pieces in that deal — Ender Inciarte and Dansby Swanson — appear to be core pieces for the Braves, Blair’s own future was already uncertain before today’s news.
The 36th overall pick in the 2013 draft, Blair was considered a high-quality prospect at the time of the deal. And he pushed into the rotation picture in Atlanta not long after arriving. But the early returns were quite poor, as Blair worked to a 7.59 ERA with 46 strikeouts and 34 walks in his first 15 starts, over which he managed only seventy innings.
Heading into 2017, the hope was that Blair could reestablish his trajectory and work back into the MLB mix. Instead, he foundered at Triple-A, pitching 127 1/3 innings of 5.02 ERA ball with 7.4 K/9 against 4.0 BB/9. In his only major-league outing, Blair was knocked out after just three innings. He was again ineffective this spring.
The righty did make one Triple-A appearance this season, so it does not appear he’d stand to accrue MLB service while he is out. But if the Braves wish to free up a 40-man spot, they’ll need to put Blair on the 60-day DL, where he would gain service credit. That’s likely not a major concern for the organization, though, given his struggles. Instead, it seems as if Blair’s 40-man spot may ultimately be in jeopardy.