Back in mid-May, Dylan Carlson suffered a sprained ankle that resulted in over three weeks on the injured list. The sprain caused enough damage that it “was something that we realized might need some more [surgical] attention down the road, so we’re taking a look at it again,” Carlson told MLB.com’s John Denton, and both the outfielder and the Cardinals are waiting on the results of some tests before deciding whether or not to go ahead with the arthroscopic surgery in short order.
Such a procedure would officially end Carlson’s 2023 season, though it is already possible he might not play again due to an oblique strain. Carlson was placed on the 10-day IL last week with what he revealed was a Grade 2 strain, detailing how he felt some mild discomfort after a swing during a game against the Rays, and then seemingly aggravated the oblique problem after sneezing a day later.
“It’s been that kind of year,” Carlson summarized, as his fourth Major League season might end with an underwhelming slash line of .219/.318/.333 over 255 plate appearances. It is fair to point to the lingering ankle problem as a reason for this performance, though Carlson also hit only .236/.316/.380 over 488 PA in 2022. This lack of production has dimmed the star of the former top-20 prospect, who finished third in NL Rookie Of The Year voting in 2021 and seemed to be a future cornerstone for St. Louis.
Instead, Carlson is one of many Cardinals players at something of a crossroads as the team tries to figure out its next steps after a thoroughly disappointing 2023 campaign. St. Louis is well on its way to only its second losing season of the 21st century, and with a rotation overhaul looking like the top offseason priority, the Cards might well look to acquire pitching by trading from its outfield depth.
Despite his tough season, Carlson drew plenty of attention prior to the trade deadline, as rival teams might think the 24-year-old could blossom with a change of scenery. Since clubs will obviously want to make sure Carlson is healthy before swinging a deal, whether Carlson undergoes the ankle surgery now or after the season could be a slight factor in his trade candidacy, though an arthroscopic procedure probably shouldn’t impact the outfielder’s readiness for Spring Training.