Guardians star José Ramírez will undergo surgery on his right hand early next month, agent Rafa Nieves tells Enrique Rojas of ESPN (Twitter link). The procedure is not expected to impact his readiness for next Spring Training. Tenchy Rodriguez was first to report (on Twitter) that Ramírez would have to undergo surgery.
Ramírez first suffered the injury midseason, Rojas adds, but he played through the issue as the Guardians ran down and eventually cruised to an AL Central title. He remained in the lineup on a more or less everyday basis, appearing in 157 regular season games and starting all seven of the club’s postseason contests at third base. Ramírez did miss two games in late June due to a right thumb injury but avoided the injured list all season.
Whether directly related to the thumb issue or not, the four-time All-Star slowed down after an otherworldly first few months. Ramírez carried a .292/.389/.641 line through 244 plate appearances on June 13. By measure of wRC+, he was the fifth-best qualified hitter in the game to that point. Ramírez first suffered the thumb injury at some point during a series against the Rockies that ranged from June 14-16, however (link via Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com). From that point forward, he posted a .273/.336/.446 line in 441 trips to the plate. Even the seemingly diminished version of Ramírez was an above-average player, but his second half was well below the MVP-caliber form he’s shown at his best.
After Cleveland’s elimination at the hands of the Yankees yesterday, Ramírez has decided to go under the knife. The expectation is that the issue will be corrected in plenty of time so as not to interrupt his preparation for next season. Assuming all goes according to plan, the 30-year-old should head into 2023 as one of the top handful of players in the sport.
Ramírez signed a team-friendly seven-year contract extension with Cleveland in Spring Training, ensuring he remains with the only organization he’s ever known. He’s due $119MM over the next six seasons, a bargain for the kind of production on both sides of the ball he provides at his peak. He’ll remain the integral piece of a young Cleveland lineup that was roughly average overall this season. The Guardians got solid contributions from a number of young players (i.e. Steven Kwan, Óscar González and Andrés Giménez) and will look to build off this year’s surprising division title over the coming seasons.