Some details of Aaron Sanchez’s rather mysterious shoulder surgery were revealed today, as Sanchez told reporters (including Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle) that his September 10 procedure addressed a tear in his right shoulder capsule. The right-hander intends to pitch in 2020, though there isn’t any chance he’ll be ready for an Opening Day roster.
Rome made the comparison to Julio Urias’ capsule procedure, which took place in late June 2017 and kept the Dodgers hurler off a big league mound until mid-September 2018. While the circumstances of such surgeries vary from person to person, Urias’ injury was a relatively “clean” issue that didn’t include any other shoulder problems beyond the capsule, yet he was still out of action on the long end of a projected 12-to-14 month timeline.
Assuming that Sanchez’s injury is similar in nature, a return by late September 2020 would seem to be really pushing it. There isn’t a long track record of pitchers successfully regaining their old form following capsule surgeries, though Urias has posted some strong numbers (2.52 ERA, 3.27 K/BB rate, 9.7 K/BB) over 78 2/3 innings for Los Angeles this season, pitching mostly out of the bullpen.
Until a more precise timeline is known for Sanchez, speculation will continue to swirl about his contract situation for the coming season. The Astros could choose to non-tender Sanchez if he indeed will miss most-to-all of the 2020 season, which will be Sanchez’s final season before free agency. Sanchez only earned $3.9MM in 2019 and wouldn’t be in line for a big raise, though that number still represents money saved for the Astros if Sanchez ends up being unable to contribute much next year. It’s possible Houston could non-tender Sanchez and then re-sign him to an incentive-filled contract based on playing time, or perhaps even ink him to a two-year deal with the understanding that 2020 would basically be a write-off.