The Diamondbacks revealed last night that third baseman Jake Lamb is dealing with “fraying” in his left rotator cuff, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. The 27-year-old is currently weighing surgery that would end his season.
As Piecoro documents, recent signals have suggested there was some real concern with the joint, as Lamb’s case has been assessed by some of the game’s foremost surgeons. Still, the hope remains that Lamb will not have to go under the knife. If he chooses to attempt a rehabilitation approach, it’s still possible he could be back this year, though surely there are other risks and drawbacks also being weighed.
It seems the organization’s quick strike for Eduardo Escobar days before the trade deadline was motivated in no small part by the uncertainty that sprung up regarding Lamb. Though manager Torey Lovullo says there was no indication at the time the injury was this significant, GM Mike Hazen acknowledged last night that he went after Escobar before word of uncertainty on the team’s regular third baseman got out. (Via Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, on Twitter.)
While the presence of Escobar leaves the team in good shape at the hot corner, the roster would look much stronger with both him and a healthy and productive Lamb available. Of course, Lamb hasn’t been at his best thus far in 2018 prior to today’s news. Over 238 plate appearances, he’s slashing just .222/.307/.348 with six home runs. With a .126 isolated slugging mark that’s about half the ISO he produced over the past two seasons, it could well be that the shoulder problem has been a factor all along.
Looking ahead, the D-Backs will have to hope that Lamb can get back to full health over the winter, regardless of which approach he takes to addressing the injury. After all, Escobar is heading to free agency. The Snakes control Lamb for the next two seasons via arbitration. Given his struggles this year, he’ll be in line for only a light raise on his $4,275,000 salary.