Just about every baseball team has a full 40-man roster now, with the Astros the only team with an open spot at the moment. That means that just about every transaction, be it a free agent signing or a waiver claim, requires a corresponding move.
However, that could soon change as the injured list is coming back soon. There’s no IL from the end of a season until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training for the next campaign, which they will do next week. That means some clubs could potentially gain a bit of extra roster flexibility at that time, since players on the 60-day IL don’t count against a team’s roster total. However, it’s worth pointing out that the “60 days” don’t start until Opening Day, which is March 30 this year. That means, though a team can transfer a player to the 60-day IL next week, they will likely only do so if they aren’t expecting the player back until end of May or later.
With some notable free agents still unsigned like Jurickson Profar, Andrew Chafin, Michael Wacha, Elvis Andrus and many others, it’s possible that teams interested in their services might try to hold off on getting a deal done until next week. Or perhaps clubs that have players they would like to sneak through waivers will try to do so now, before rival clubs gain that extra roster flexibility with the IL opening up. Then again, some clubs will need to keep in mind non-roster players they are planning to promote by Opening Day and might hold off on making a move until that time.
Here are some players who are expected to miss some significant time and could find themselves transferred soon, sorted by division.
The Blue Jays have a pair of pitchers on their 40-man roster who are returning from Tommy John surgery. They should be on a similar timeline, as they each underwent the procedure in June of last year, though Green will most likely return first since relievers generally require less time to build up arm strength compared to starters. Regardless, the recovery time period for TJS is about 12-18 months, meaning neither pitcher is likely to return until midseason at the earliest. Ryu recently said he was targeting a July return.
The Red Sox shortstop recently underwent an internal brace procedure on his throwing elbow, a similar operation to Tommy John. Though he’s confident he’ll return at some point, he’s slated to miss most of the upcoming season and is certainly headed for the injured list.
The Orioles lefty underwent Tommy John surgery in late of April of 2022. With the 12-18 month recovery window for TJS, he could theoretically return in the first couple of months of the season, so the O’s may not want to transfer him to the injured list until they have some clarity about his timeline.
Scott Effross/Luis Gil/Frankie Montas
Effross is a lock for the Yankees’ injured list as he underwent Tommy John in October and will likely miss the entire 2023 campaign. Gil had the same surgery but in May, which means he’ll likely be out until midseason. The situation with Montas is a bit less clear, as he’s dealing with shoulder inflammation that is expected to keep him out for the first month of the season. Unless he suffers some sort of setback, he probably won’t be placed on the 60-day IL right away.
The Rays have a couple of hurlers bound for the IL as Baz underwent Tommy John in September while Kittredge had the same surgery in June. They’re both going to miss the first half of the year, with Baz potentially missing the entire season.
Mize underwent Tommy John surgery in June and should be placed on the Tigers’ IL at some point. Skubal’s case is a bit less certain after he underwent flexor tendon surgery in August. The club hasn’t provided a timeline for his recovery but some recent comparables can give us some idea. Danny Duffy underwent the procedure in October of 2021 and was hoping to return by June of 2022, though a setback prevented him from pitching at all on the year. Matthew Boyd went under the knife for flexor tendon surgery in September of 2021 and didn’t return to a big league mound until September of 2022.
Crochet of the White Sox underwent Tommy John surgery in April of last year but was already stretched out to throwing from 120 feet in November. Whether he’s able to return in the early parts of 2023 or not will depend on his continued progression in that recovery process. In a less conventional situation, Liam Hendriks announced last month that he’s beginning treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It’s unknown how long his treatment will take but general manager Rick Hahn said they don’t expect updates “prior to Opening Day at the very earliest.”
Paddack was recently extended by the Twins though he underwent Tommy John in May of last year and likely won’t be ready to return until the middle of the upcoming campaign. Lewis tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in June of last year, the second year in a row that he suffered that unfortunate injury. At the time, his recovery timeline was estimated at 12 months, which likely puts him on the shelf until midseason as well.
It was reported last month that the Rangers lefty will require shoulder surgery. It was said that the timeline will become more clear in the aftermath of the procedure but he’s likely to miss the entirety of the upcoming season.
The Phillies superstar underwent Tommy John surgery in November and the club has announced they expect him to be out of action until around the All-Star break in July.
Both these Braves pitchers underwent Tommy John last year, with Ynoa going under the knife in September and Matzek in October. That makes them both long shots for appearing at all this year, but especially not in the first half.
Max Meyer/Anthony Bender/Sixto Sanchez
The Marlins have a couple of arms that will certainly miss time this year and one more that’s a wild card. Meyer and Bender both underwent Tommy John in August and will miss most of the upcoming campaign. Sanchez underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery in October with the club announcing at that time they expected him back by spring. It was reported last month that Sanchez is already throwing bullpens, which perhaps points against an IL stint. However, after the shoulder issues completely wiped out his 2021 and 2022 seasons, it’s hard to know how much to rely on his health going forward.
The Mets signed Mendick after he was non-tendered by the White Sox. The infielder/outfielder tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in June of last year and missed the second half of the season. There haven’t been any updates on his status recently, but further clarity will likely come when camp gets rolling.
Tanner Rainey/Stephen Strasburg
The Nationals have one fairly straightforward case in Tanner Rainey, who underwent Tommy John in August and will likely miss most of the upcoming season. What’s less clear is the situation surrounding Strasburg, who’s hardly pitched at all over the past three years due to thoracic outlet syndrome and various issues seemingly related to that. He made one appearance in the big leagues last year, pitching 4 2/3 in one start in June but went on the IL right after and never returned. He spoke about the issue in September, saying he hadn’t thrown in months and that he is “not really sure what the future holds.”
Ethan Roberts/Codi Heuer/Kyle Hendricks
Roberts underwent Tommy John in June and likely won’t be available for the Cubs until midseason. Heuer had TJS in March but the latest reporting suggests he won’t return until June or July. The status of Hendricks is less clear, with the righty trying to recover from a capsular tear in his shoulder. The club is hoping to have him back by Opening Day but also said they won’t rush him. He recently said that he’s expecting to be on a mound by March 1.
Vladimir Gutierrez/Tejay Antone
Gutierrez, a Reds righty, underwent Tommy John in July and should miss the first few months of the upcoming season at least. Antone was rehabbing from a Tommy John of his own when he suffered a flexor strain in his forearm. He announced today he’s received a platelet-rich plasma injection to treat the issue and suggested he might miss the first half of the season.
The Pirates right-hander required Tommy John in June and will miss the first half of the upcoming campaign.
Antonio Senzatela/Tyler Kinley
The Rockies have a couple of murky situations on their hands with these hurlers. Senzatela tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee last year and required surgery in August. The timeline at that point was given at 6-8 months, which would place his return somewhere in the February-April window. Whether he’ll require a lengthy IL stint will depend on if his recovery is still on that track. Kinley was diagnosed with an elbow strain and a flexor tear in his forearm in June of last year. He underwent surgery in July with the club announcing they expected him to miss one calendar year, which should prevent him from pitching early in the campaign.
Walker Buehler/Blake Treinen/J.P. Feyereisen
The Dodgers have a trio of pitchers that are likely to miss most or perhaps all of the upcoming season. Buehler required Tommy John in August and could potentially return very late in the year. Treinen underwent shoulder surgery in November with an estimated recovery time of 10 months. Feyereisen underwent shoulder surgery in December and won’t be able to begin throwing until four months after that procedure, or around April. His eventual return to game shape will depend on how long it takes him to progress from simply throwing to getting up to full game speed.
The Giants signed the right-hander in free agency, despite Jackson undergoing Tommy John in April. President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi told reporters last month that there was a chance Jackson begins the year on the 60-day IL, though that doesn’t seem to indicate any kind of setback. “He’s doing great in his rehab, so we’re going to wait and see how he’s doing in spring training,” Zaidi said.