Twins right-hander José De León has a torn ligament in his elbow and will require Tommy John surgery, reports Bobby Nightengale of the Star Tribune. As Nightengale points out, this will be the second Tommy John for De León, who also underwent the procedure in 2018.
It’s a very unfortunate blow for De León, 30, who has been repeatedly beset by injuries throughout his career. He was once considered one of the top prospects in the league, with Baseball America putting him in the top 30 of their top 100 list in 2016 and 2017. His first TJS wiped out his 2018 and part of his 2019, then he struggled to get on track in 2020 and 2021. He signed a minor league deal with the Blue Jays last year but was injured in the spring and didn’t pitch in an official game until August.
This year, De León seemed to be on a good track. He joined Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic and tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings, racking up 10 strikeouts in that time. He then joined Triple-A St. Paul and posted a 3.62 ERA in 27 1/3 innings. That got him back to the big leagues and he had a 4.67 ERA through 17 1/3 innings for the Twins before landing on the injured list yesterday with a strain in his right flexor muscle.
Sadly, his most encouraging performance in years will now be ended prematurely. He will miss the remainder of the 2023 campaign and likely much of the 2024 season as well, given then 14 to 18 months of recovery that are generally needed after TJS.
He will surely be transferred to the 60-day injured list as soon as the Twins require his roster spot and will stay there for the rest of the season, collecting major league pay for the next few months. He will cross three years of service time in the process and be eligible for arbitration this winter, though the club will likely opt for a non-tender with his upcoming absence and uncertain health status.