Alex Lange To Undergo Lat Surgery

MLB Trade Rumors

Tigers reliever Alex Lange will undergo surgery to repair an avulsion in his right lat next week, the team informed reporters (X link via Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free-Press). The club didn’t provide any kind of return timetable, but it’s fair to wonder if he’ll make it back this season.

Making matters worse, the right-hander suffered the injury while he was pitching in Triple-A. The Tigers had optioned him in late May. He left his appearance on Friday — his ninth minor league outing — in obvious pain. That’ll send Lange to the minor league injured list The Tigers could decide to recall him and place him on the MLB 60-day injured list if they need to open a spot on the 40-man roster, but Lange won’t collect an MLB salary or service time while he’s on the minor league IL.

It’s the toughest blow in an absolute nightmare of a season for Detroit’s former closer. Lange saved 26 games a year ago. He turned in consecutive sub-4.00 ERA showings with plus strikeout and ground-ball rates between 2022-23. Yet the LSU product’s success always felt a little tenuous because of scattershot control. That came back to bite him through the first couple months this season.

Lange walked more than 18% of the hitters he faced over 21 big league appearances. His strikeouts and grounders each dropped to around league average. That’s clearly not a great combination. Lange allowed 16 runs across 18 2/3 innings. While only nine of those runs were earned, his underlying numbers were concerning enough for Detroit to send him down in an effort to back on track. Lange had seemed to be doing just that, striking out 12 with only one walk in 8 2/3 Triple-A frames.

The injury could have an impact on the former first-rounder’s service trajectory. Lange entered the 2024 campaign with two years and 112 days of MLB service. The 172-day threshold marks a full year, meaning he needed 60 days on the MLB roster (or MLB injured list) to reach the three-year threshold in 2024. Detroit optioned Lange after 56 days, leaving him a couple days shy of the three-year mark.

That didn’t seem like much of an issue when the club expected to recall him in relatively short order. It’s more of a concern now, particularly if his season is over. If Lange spends the rest of the season on the minor league injured list, he’ll come up short of the three-year mark. That’d push back his path to free agency by a year and, probably more significantly, prevent him from reaching arbitration next winter as initially expected. (Lange would not qualify for early arbitration as a Super Two player, which only applies to players who had at least 86 days of service time in the preceding season.) That could impact whether the Tigers decide to put Lange on the major league 60-day IL at any point this year.

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