Red Sox reliever Carson Smith is set to undergo shoulder surgery tomorrow, the team announced to reporters (Twitter link via Rob Bradford of WEEI.com). The operation will likely put an end to the 28-year-old’s season.
It’s the latest setback in what is becoming an increasingly injury-plagued career for Smith, who missed the majority of the 2016 and 2017 seasons while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Tomorrow’s surgery will repair a subluxation in his throwing shoulder, which the right-hander reportedly incurred after angrily tossing his glove out of frustration following a poor outing last month. However, there’s additional damage in his shoulder, it seems, as head athletic trainer Brad Pearson tells reporters that Smith also has some tearing in the labrum (Twitter link via the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier).
Originally acquired by the Red Sox in the Dec. 2015 trade that sent Wade Miley and Jonathan Aro to the Mariners, Smith has spent three seasons in the organization but pitched just 20 innings at the Major League level. Obviously, the Sox had higher hopes when trading for him, as he was coming off a dominant rookie campaign in Seattle that saw him pitch 70 innings of 2.31 ERA ball with 11.8 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a hefty 64.8 percent ground-ball rate.
Smith drew some ire from Boston skipper Alex Cora last month after suggesting that heavy usage may have contributed to the wear and tear on his shoulder. Cora bluntly said that he “doesn’t agree” with Smith’s comments and spoke at length about the frequency with which the Red Sox staff checks in on its relievers to see who is and isn’t available to take the hill on a given night.
Given Smith’s ongoing injury woes and the fact that he’s arbitration-eligible for a second time this offseason, it’s possible that the Sox could move on from Smith via non-tender this offseason. But, he won’t be in line for much of a raise on this season’s $850K salary after pitching just 14 1/3 innings, so they may also opt to hang onto the affordable depth even with the health concerns.