UPDATE: David Waldstein of the New York Times reports that Chamberlain will be released from the hospital tomorrow, which indicates that no infections have developed.
Furthermore, Yankees manager Joe Girardi told Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com that no microfractures were found in the ankle and that Chamberlain will be in a cast for the next six weeks. It’s still early, but these are some very encouraging signs that he’ll be able to resume his playing career, perhaps as soon as this season.
4:15 PM: Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told Kieran Darcy of ESPNNewYork.com this morning that Joba Chamberlain could be released from the hospital as soon as today.
Chamberlain suffered an open dislocation of of his right ankle Thursday while jumping on a trampoline with his 5-year-old son. There is concern that he could develop an infection immediately following surgery, so it would be a positive sign if he is released this soon. But results of a CT scan and an MRI aren’t yet known.
Chamberlain also told Cashman that doctors think he could be back on the mound by July if all goes well. But again, it’s much too soon to tell.
“He was hopeful that he could be back on the mound by July, is what he said that they had told him,” said Cashman, who visited Chamberlain in the hospital Friday afternoon. “That’s what he told me the doctors are telling him.
“That’s the optimistic side, but I’m only getting that from Joba,” Cashman added. “I don’t think anybody can tell anybody directly right now anything on that.”
It seems almost trivial to discuss Chamberlain’s chances of pitching this season, but even assuming that he doesn’t have any complications with the ankle, the injury pushes back his rehab from Tommy John surgery. He faces some pretty long odds. And because he’s arbitration-eligible for the final time this winter, there’s a chance that he has already thrown his final pitch in a Yankees’ uniform.
The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.
Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.
Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”
Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.
The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.