Indians right-hander Danny Salazar will undergo exploratory surgery on his bothersome right shoulder on Monday, as per a team announcement (hat tip to MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian). Details on when, or if, Salazar could be back on the mound this season won’t be known until after the procedure.
Salazar first suffered shoulder problems prior to Spring Training, with an issue that was described as rotator cuff inflammation, and later diagnosed as an impingement. The injury has kept him out of action for the entire season, and after rest and a pair of plasma injections didn’t lead to any progress, it seems as though surgery was the only logical next course of action.
Today’s announcement creates fresh doubt about whether or not Salazar will see any action at all in 2018. Even if nothing serious is discovered during the procedure, he would still need several weeks to recover and build up arm strength after not pitching since February. The best-case scenario would seem to be a September return, though the Tribe would most likely deploy Salazar out of the bullpen rather than rely on him for a starter’s workload.
Cleveland has largely managed to withstand Salazar’s absence this season, as the team’s rotation ranks at or near the top of most starting pitching categories. Over the long term, however, Salazar’s future with the Tribe may now be in question due to continued injuries. This is the third straight year that Salazar has faced shoulder problems, and he also had forearm and elbow issues in 2016. As MLBTR’s Steve Adams noted in our last update on Salazar’s condition, the Indians could decide that Salazar is too risky a proposition to be tendered a contract in his third year of arbitration eligibility. Even after potentially missing an entire season, Salazar would still be in line for a token raise of his $5MM salary for 2018, which would be a tough fit for a payroll-conscious team like Cleveland.