Rafael Furcal opted against undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery in August, choosing instead to rest and rehab his partially torn ulnar collateral ligament, but now seven months later the Cardinals shortstop is going under the knife.
Today the Cardinals announced that Furcal will have Tommy John surgery and is expected to be out for 6-8 months, which almost surely means his season is over before it even started. Positive offseason reports about Furcal’s recovery progress convinced the Cardinals not to invest heavily in another shortstop plan, so now they’re left with Pete Kozma or Ronny Cedeno as in-house options to replace him.
Cedeno is a veteran with a solid glove, but he’s hit just .247 with a .290 on-base percentage and .357 slugging percentage in 779 career games through age 29. Kozma played shockingly well stepping into the lineup for Furcal down the stretch last season, but his numbers in the minors have consistently been terrible–including a .223 average and .610 OPS at Triple-A–and there’s little to suggest he’s suited to play regularly in the majors.
And as a 35-year-old shortstop set for major elbow surgery Furcal’s career is now in jeopardy.
CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has been working out daily with free agent starter Jake Arrieta in Austin. The right-hander, who won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, still remains teamless with spring training less than a month away. Williams has been trying to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies.
Williams said of Arrieta, “He loves it here [Austin]. He has told me he likes working with young guys. I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.”
On GM Matt Klentak’s hunt for pitching help, new manager Gabe Kapler said, “The pursuit is very real. I have a lot of trust that we’ll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we’re better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”
Arrieta, who turns 32 years old in March, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and a 163/55 K/BB ratio in 168 1/3 innings last season with the Cubs. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have been linked to Arrieta this month.
Presently, the Phillies’ starting rotation figures to include Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez along with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, and Jake Thompson. Arrieta would certainly amount to a big upgrade in the starting rotation and could make the Phillies a more attractive landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who become free agents after the 2018 campaign. The Phillies are expected to be in the mix for either or both players.