Right-hander James Kaprielian underwent surgery to fix his right AC joint, Athletics manager Mark Kotsay told reporters (including Evan Webeck of the Bay Area News Group) today at the Winter Meetings. It doesn’t appear to be a terribly serious procedure, as Kotsay didn’t “think it’s a concern,” and the skipper felt Kaprielian should be recovered in time for Spring Training. “There’s all kinds of variables that can place from now until February but the expectation is that he will be ready,” Kotsay said.
2022 was Kaprielian’s third Major League season, and he posted a 4.23 ERA, 17% strikeout rate, and 10.2% walk rate over 134 innings. Those rates are well below the league average, adding to an altogether uninspiring Statcast page for the 28-year-old. Kaprielian’s ERA well outpaced his 5.02 SIERA, and he benefited from a .263 BABIP, with his solid hard-contact numbers also helping limit the damage on balls hit into play.
While the bottom-line numbers are pretty similar to Kaprielian’s 2021 statistics, his strikeout and walk rates both dropped off heavily, and his hard-hit ball numbers significantly improved (Kaprielian also had a .274 BABIP in 2021). It could be that the right-hander might become more consistent and perhaps just better overall now that he has undergone this procedure, as Kaprielian missed time early in the 2022 season due to an inflamed AC joint, and he also spent time on the injured list in 2021 with a shoulder impingement.
Good health is obviously key to Kaprielian’s chances of returning to the Athletics’ rotation, but he’ll be helped by something of a wide-open competition for starting jobs. According to Kotsay, Cole Irvin is the only in-house starter guaranteed a spot in the starting five, with Kaprielian, Paul Blackburn, Ken Waldichuk, JP Sears, Adrian Martinez, Adam Oller, Zach Logue, and A.J. Puk among the candidates battling for starting roles. The rebuilding A’s probably figure to add at least one veteran pitcher on a minor league contract or a low-cost big league deals, perhaps with an eye towards flipping that veteran to a contending team at the trade deadline.