1:00pm: The Yankees provided reporters, including Bryan Hoch of MLB.com, with an update regarding the surgery. As Martino reported, it’s true that internal bracing may be possible during the surgery, but the club is still estimating a timeline of nine to ten months regardless.
12:25pm: A full Tommy John surgery could still be avoided, reports Andy Martino of SNY. He says that the possibility of bracing will be determined during the surgery. That could perhaps lessen the recovery timeline, though further updates will surely follow the procedure.
10:55am: Yankees outfielder Jasson Dominguez will undergo Tommy John surgery on Wednesday of next week, manager Aaron Boone announced to reporters Thursday (link via Chris Kirschner of The Athletic). It was already known that Dominguez would require surgery of some type to address the damaged ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, but the Yankees and Dominguez were still gathering information before determining whether he’d need a full UCL reconstruction (i.e. Tommy John surgery) or a less-invasive procedure, such as a primary repair or internal brace. Dominguez’s estimated MLB return is nine to ten months, tweets MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch, so he’ll likely miss close to half the 2024 season.
While Dominguez, the team and its fans are all surely glad to have some clarity on a formal diagnosis and treatment plan, it’s nonetheless an obvious gut-punch to all parties after Dominguez’s impressive debut earlier this month. The 20-year-old switch-hitter has been lauded as one of the game’s top prospects since signing with the Yankees on for a $5.1MM bonus as an international amateur back on July 2, 2019. He did little to sway that thinking upon his call to the big leagues, ripping an opposite-field homer off Justin Verlander in his first at-bat before going on to hit .258/.303/.677 with four homers and a double in his first 33 MLB plate appearances.
Dominguez’s debut effort lasted just eight games, but the month of September had been shaping up to be an audition for a full-time role in next year’s outfield. The early stages of that audition were a clear success, and there appeared to be a real chance that Dominguez would open the 2024 season as New York’s primary center fielder (or perhaps left fielder, depending on the progress of fellow prospect Everson Pereira and on any offseason dealings). The Yankees waived Harrison Bader in late August — the Reds subsequently claimed him — and will see utilityman Isiah Kiner-Falefa join Bader in free agency this winter.
An absence of nine to ten months rather clearly disrupts any plans for Dominguez to take over a full-time spot in the outfield. The Yankees will still want to take a look at Dominguez in a full-time role when he returns, but his injury increases the chances that the Yanks will at least pursue a veteran stopgap in center field to help bridge that gap. Bader seems quite likely to command a multi-year deal this offseason even on the heels of a tough year at the plate, given his defensive excellence. There aren’t many true short-term options on the free-agent market, though Aaron Judge’s ability to play center field could allow the Yankees to deploy him there for a few months and look into short-term upgrades in the outfield corners.
Whatever route the Yankees pursue, Dominguez will open the 2024 campaign on the Major League 60-day injured list and accrue both service time and big league pay while he rehabs. The injury will make it highly unlikely that he’ll have the playing time required to push himself into American League Rookie of the Year voting next year, thus reducing the probability of the Yankees benefiting in the third year of MLB”s “prospect promotion incentive” system that was implemented in the 2022-26 collective bargaining agreement.
Otherwise, Dominguez’s injury won’t do much to change impact his service time or long-term club control. He was likely to open the season on the roster anyhow, making a full year of service in 2024 the likeliest outcome. That’s still the case, and assuming he collects that full year in ’24, he’ll be under team control via the arbitration system through the 2029 season. The timing of Dominguez’s call to the Majors this year doesn’t put him anywhere near Super Two trajectory, so he’ll be eligible for arbitration following the 2026 season, barring any future optional assignments that could change that timeline.