Sawyer Gipson-Long To Undergo Internal Brace Surgery

MLB Trade Rumors

The Tigers informed reporters that depth starter Sawyer Gipson-Long will undergo an internal brace surgery on Monday to repair his UCL (X link via Evan Woodbery of MLive). He’ll miss the entire 2024 season.

It’s an unfortunate but not especially surprising revelation. Gipson-Long had gone for various evaluations after feeling forearm tightness a couple weeks ago. The 6’4″ righty was already on the 15-day injured list because of a groin strain, yet this obviously represents a much more serious setback. While an internal brace procedure comes with a shorter recovery timeline than the standard Tommy John UCL reconstruction, it’s likely he’ll begin the ’25 campaign on the IL as well.

Gipson-Long is a former sixth-round draftee of the Twins. Detroit acquired him at the 2022 deadline for reliever Michael Fulmer. The Tigers called him to the majors for the first time last September. Gipson-Long had an excellent showing, working to a 2.70 ERA with a near-32% strikeout rate in 20 innings. He didn’t face the toughest competition — his starts were against the White Sox, Angels, A’s and Royals — but it was about as impressive a debut as Detroit could’ve reasonably expected.

Detroit wasn’t likely to give Gipson-Long an Opening Day rotation spot even if he were healthy. Between Tarik SkubalReese OlsonCasey MizeMatt Manning and offseason signees Jack Flaherty and Kenta Maeda, they have a fair amount of rotation talent. Gipson-Long would likely have been seventh on the depth chart. Even if he started the year on optional assignment to Triple-A Toledo, it’s likely he’d have been tabbed for some starts throughout the course of a 162-game schedule.

Instead, he’ll spend the entire season on the IL. The small silver lining is that he’ll be paid at the MLB minimum rate and collect a full year of service time. Detroit can transfer him to the 60-day injured list whenever they need a 40-man roster spot. There’s no IL during the offseason, so the Tigers will need to reinstate or waive Gipson-Long shortly after the conclusion of the World Series. Assuming they keep him on the roster, he’ll be controllable for at least another five seasons.

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