White Sox lefty Carlos Rodon has received an initial recommendation that he undergo Tommy John surgery, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports on Twitter. He’s headed in for a second opinion before a final course is set.
It was already known that a full ulnar collateral ligament replacement was possible for the 26-year-old southpaw. But that scarcely draws the sting for the Chicago organization, which already lost another of its other top young arms when Michael Kopech underwent the dreaded (but often career-saving) procedure last season.
If Rodon does indeed require TJS, he’ll be down for the entire remainder of the 2019 season. His rehab would surely stretch into the 2020 campaign as well. The best-case scenario, presuming steady progress on a fairly conservative timetable, would likely be a return next summer.
Perhaps there’s still hope that Rodon can avoid the procedure. Other hurlers have rehabbed through UCL injuries and there are some alternatives that don’t require quite as long a layoff. The possibilities and odds aren’t really clear at this point.
Regardless, it’s clear that Rodon will be sidelined for a lengthy stretch. That’s too bad, as the former third overall pick had in some ways been in his finest form as a big leaguer thus far in 2019.
While his 5.19 ERA on the season isn’t much to look at, Rodon was punching out opposing hitters at a 11.9 K/9 rate on a 12.1% swinging-strike rate while maintaining a 18.3% K%-BB%. Those are all career-best figures. Rodon is also surrendering more hard contact to go with the unsightly ERA, so clearly there were some kinks still to be worked out in his newly four-seam heavy approach.
Fortunately, even if Rodon does need a new ligament, he’ll have ample hope of returning to full health and rejoining the pursuit of his not-insignificant ceiling. He’s playing on a $4.2MM salary this year and has two more arb years remaining. In the event of season-ending surgery, the White Sox will have to stake something around that amount (perhaps adding a small raise) in order to maintain control over Rodon for his final two seasons of arbitration eligibility.