The uncertain start date for the season and the likelihood that, if there is a 2020 season, it’d extend into at least late October, has created some intriguing possibilities about players unexpectedly returning from injury earlier than anticipated. In theory, Pirates righty Jameson Taillon would be one such player to watch, but Taillon tells Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the organization has already ruled out a return in 2020 — regardless of start date (Twitter link).
Taillon, 27, underwent his second career Tommy John surgery last August. The righty acknowledged that the thought of pushing back the season end date prompted him to inquire with the team, but the Pirates “shut me down pretty quickly,” Taillon says. Even in the event that Taillon’s arm were ready for game activity before the close of a potentially pushed-back season, the club would have concerns about the impact of a shortened offseason heading into 2021.
Pittsburgh controls Taillon through the 2022 season, so he’ll still have at least two years as a Pirate remaining — barring a trade. That seems quite likely to be explored a ways down the road, given the team’s penchant making its most desirable players available once their escalating salary and waning team control reach a nexus. In the case of Taillon, it would seem prudent to wait until he’s able to demonstrate his health, which would mean a mid-2021 trade at the earliest.
Of course, it’s also worth noting that Taillon will be paid just $2.25MM in 2020 — again, assuming some form of season is played — and would likely stand to earn that same sum in 2021 regardless of whether games are played. That’s an eminently affordable rate even for the Pirates, so financial motivations won’t play much of a role in any talks in which they may engage (save for the inquiring team’s desire to land a quality pitcher at a relative pittance).