Detroit Tigers’ Matthew Boyd needs flexor tendon surgery, expects to pitch in 2022

Detroit Free Press

Detroit Tigers left-hander Matthew Boyd will undergo surgery Monday in Dallas to repair the flexor tendon in his throwing arm.

Dr. Keith Meister, the head team physician for the Texas Rangers, will perform the surgery. Boyd visited Meister and Dr. Neal ElAttrache — the head team physician for the Los Angeles Dodgers — for opinions on his left elbow strain. The injury forced him to miss roughly half of the 2021 season.

The timetable for Boyd’s recovery is unclear, but the 30-year-old is confident he will return to the mound in 2022.

“I’ll go down there and meet with Meister,” Boyd said Friday. “He’s just going to clean up the tendon a little bit. The ligament, both guys said, is solid, looks fine and is strong, so let’s clean this up so I can be healthy for next season and do everything I can to help this team win a World Series.”

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Needing surgery puts Boyd in a position of uncertainty, considering the Tigers must decide if they will tender him a contract for next season.

Players with at least three years, but less than six, of MLB service time are eligible for salary arbitration if they don’t have a contract for the upcoming season. If a team chooses not to offer a contract — known as “non-tendering” — they become free agents.

After six years of service time, a player is eligible for free agency. Players also accrue service time while on the injured list.

“I’m on board with Matt Boyd,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said Friday. “I think he’s part of a solution. Obviously, it factors in where he’s at in his career, his age and his contract, all of that stuff is going to be taken care of eventually. But as a person and as a player, Matt Boyd is a winner. I think he learned a lot this season that’s going to make him better in the years ahead.”

Represented by agent Scott Boras, Boyd enters his final round of arbitration eligibility this offseason, ahead of free agency after the 2022 campaign. (Last winter, the Tigers tendered Boyd a contract and avoided an arbitration hearing by agreeing to a $6.5 million deal for 2021.)

“We’ll see where he’s at, where we’re at,” Tigers general manager Al Avila said Friday. “There’s a potential deal to be made, but I’m not really prepared to speak about that right now, and I’m not really making a 100% commitment at this point, either. We will reassess that. We’ll discuss it in the offseason and after the surgery is over.”

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Boyd hopes to pitch for the Tigers when he is back to full health.

“If that path does change, then I’ll attack that,” Boyd said. “I’ll be who I am for somebody else and do everything I can to help them win a championship. But right now, it’s the Tigers. It’s just stuff that’s not up to me.”

The veteran lefty finished the season with a 3.89 ERA, 23 walks and 67 strikeouts in 78⅔ innings over 15 games. Boyd landed on the injured list twice: June 15 with left arm discomfort and Sept. 11 with a left elbow strain. Once his arm problems “flared up consistently,” Boyd realized surgery would be his best option to stay healthy.

He has a career 4.96 ERA across seven seasons for the Toronto Blue Jays (2015) and Tigers (2015-21).

“I’m going to use this to get stronger,” Boyd said. “I’m going to use this to get my forearm stronger, my shoulder stronger, my lower half stronger, and I’m going to come back healthy, stronger and better than I was before. This season, I started to realize the best baseball I’ve ever pitched, and then this kind of came up.

“To me, it’s exciting that I get to put this behind me and be uninhibited going forward with everything I have gained this year. Something that has been nagging over the course of a while is going to be gone, and it’s going to be new. Everything else, it’ll take care of itself. When I pick up a baseball next year, I’m going to be the best version of Matthew Boyd.”

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzoldRead more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

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