Yankees catcher Ben Rortvedt and right-hander Frankie Montas both underwent surgery Wednesday, manager Aaron Boone announced to reporters (Twitter links via Bryan Hoch of MLB.com). Montas was already known to require arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder, and today’s procedure is now being classified as a cleanup of his labrum. His rotator cuff did not require repair. Montas will be cleared to resume throwing in approximately 12 weeks and could still return this season.
Rortvedt, meanwhile, has been bothered by a finger ailment that doctors had been unable to pinpoint in recent days. He met with a specialist yesterday. The operation addressed an aneurysm near the posterior in his left shoulder, which had impacted the circulation in his hand and finger. He’ll be shut down from all baseball activity for at least the next month.
The injury to Montas is an obvious blow for a Yankees club that hoped for a healthy Montas in 2023 — one that resembled his standout form with the Athletics more than the diminished version of Montas they saw following last summer’s trade. The right-hander had dealt with shoulder troubles shortly before the trade deadline, but the Yankees were clearly convinced that the issue was minor and that they’d be getting something close to the pitcher who’d posted a 3.30 ERA with strong strikeout and walk rates from Opening Day 2021 through the 2022 trade deadline.
Instead, the Yankees received eight rough outings from Montas down the stretch and will now be without him for the majority of the 2023 campaign, after which he’s slated to become a free agent. New York also picked up righty reliever Lou Trivino in that swap, and he delivered 21 2/3 innings of 1.94 ERA ball down the stretch. He’s controlled through the 2024 season, but the trade with the A’s will still feel rather steep, given that the Yankees sent prospects Ken Waldichuk, JP Sears, Luis Medina and Cooper Bowman to Oakland in return for Montas and Trivino. The Yankees reportedly do not plan to pursue a trade to replenish the pitching depth lost with Montas’ injury.
As for Rortvedt, he came over to the Yankees alongside Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa in the trade that sent Gio Urshela and Gary Sanchez to the Twins last offseason. A former second-round pick who’s regarded as a glove-first option behind the dish, the 25-year-old Rortvedt played in only 48 minor league games in 2022. He spent most of the season on the Major League injured list due to a severe oblique strain and was optioned upon activation. He spent six games in the low minors before heading to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he turned in a .221/.307/.396 batting line with six home runs and a 10.2% walk rate but also a troubling 32.2% strikeout rate in 177 plate appearances.
Rortvedt has appeared in 39 big league games, all with the Twins, and posted a .169/.229/.281 batting line with a 29.6% strikeout rate in 98 trips to the plate. He has a minor league option year remaining — which is crucial, given that Jose Trevino and Kyle Higashioka are lined up as the primary catchers to begin the season — and can be controlled for at least five more years.