The Dodgers have placed infielder Max Muncy on the 10-day injured list due to left elbow inflammation. Kevin Pillar’s contract was selected from Triple-A to take Muncy’s spot on the active roster, and Los Angeles moved Tommy Kahnle to the 60-day IL to open up a 40-man place for Pillar. In another move, right-hander Michael Grove was called up to the active roster, while right-hander Ryan Pepiot was optioned to Triple-A.
Muncy knocked his elbow into a wall while chasing a foul ball on Wednesday, and he has missed the Dodgers’ last two games. However, Muncy’s elbow has been an ongoing concern since he partially tore his UCL in the final game of the 2021 regular season. Muncy opted against any type of surgery, but clearly hasn’t been his usual self at the dish, batting only .150/.327/.263 over his first 168 plate appearances.
“We all know he’s been grinding with the arm issue,” manager Dave Roberts told Jack Harris of the Los Angeles Times and other reporters on Thursday. Roberts implied at the time that a IL stint would be necessary, saying “I’m going to give him some time off to kind of reset the arm…I don’t know if there’s an aggravation in there. But we just have to kind of temper back a little bit.”
Given the lingering nature of Muncy’s elbow problems, it seems likely that he’ll miss more than just the minimum 10 days, as both the infielder and the Dodgers surely want to make sure he’s properly ready before a return to action. It isn’t known if surgery is being considered as a possibility to correct the issue once and for all, as Muncy said back in March that he was told by doctors that surgery wasn’t necessary.
It is a testament to the Dodgers’ depth and overall quality that L.A. is still dominating the league without much contribution from such key players as Muncy, Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger, and with several pitchers (including Clayton Kershaw) on the injured list. However, for Los Angeles to capture another World Series title, they’ll surely need some help from some of these names come October.
Muncy has been mostly splitting time between second and third base. Turner and the hot-hitting Edwin Rios can handle third base, while Muncy’s absence could mean more time for Gavin Lux and Hanser Alberto at the keystone. Chris Taylor has been exclusively used as an outfielder this season, but the longtime utilityman figures to factor into the infield picture as well, especially with Pillar now on the roster to provide outfield depth.
A veteran of nine MLB seasons, Pillar hit .231/.277/.415 over 347 PA with the Mets last season, and both sides declined their ends of options on Pillar’s services for the 2023 season. Pillar had wait until after the lockout to find his next contract and had to settle for a minor league deal, but he’ll now receive a $2.5MM guaranteed salary for making the Dodgers’ active roster.
Pillar had two opportunities to opt out of his minors deal since the Dodgers hadn’t yet called him up to the majors, and a third opt-out date was set for June 1. Beyond the contractual details, Pillar was also doing a lot to force the Dodgers’ hand by ripping up Triple-A pitching — the outfielder has hit .315/.412/.622 over 153 PA with Oklahoma City this season. It’s probably safe to assume that Pillar (career 88 wRC+) won’t keep up that kind of production in the big leagues, but the Dodgers only need him to handle part-time outfield duty while they figure out the position player mix.