Joakim Soria got second and third opinions after being diagnosed with a damaged ulnar collateral ligament and they all agreed, so the 27-year-old Royals closer will undergo Tommy John elbow surgery on April 3.
Typically recovery timetables are 12-18 months, so Soria will miss the entire season and could be limited in early 2013 as well.
Soria is owed $6 million this season and the Royals have an $8 million option or $750,000 buyout for 2013 and an $8.75 million option or $750,000 buyout for 2014. Much like Adam Wainwright with the Cardinals last year, the Royals may have to make a decision on Soria’s future before having a clear sense of his recovery.
Jonathan Broxton and Greg Holland are the options to replace Soria as closer, but manager Ned Yost hasn’t made a decision yet. Or at least hasn’t announced his decision publicly yet. And with one of those two moving from a setup role to ninth-inning duties the Royals have canceled plans to shift Aaron Crow from the bullpen to the rotation.
Soria had a helluva run for the Royals, going from unknown to stud closer in 2007 and saving 160 games with a 2.40 ERA and 341 strikeouts in 315 innings over five seasons. During that time the only pitcher with more saves and a lower ERA than Soria was Mariano Rivera.
Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area hints that the Giants may be done with outfielder Hunter Pence. It’s not clear just how seriously the club is contemplating such a decision, but there are six days remaining on Pence’s rehab assignment, at which point they’ll be able to recall him, reassign him to the minors or release him.
The 35-year-old outfielder has struggled to make a full recovery after spraining his right thumb during the first week of the season. Pence bounced back for a 17-game run with the Giants in April, during which he slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 with one double and one stolen base in 61 plate appearances, but was eventually placed on the disabled list with recurring soreness in his finger. He currently sports a promising .318/.359/.388 batting line with four extra-base hits (including a grand slam) over 92 PA in Triple-A Sacramento.
Despite his recent resurgence in Triple-A, the Giants may not need the additional outfield depth just yet. Mac Williamson, who was recalled in the wake of Pence’s DL assignment, has already cemented the starting role in left field and is off to a strong start at the plate as well. Of course, if the Giants decide to say a premature goodbye to their veteran outfielder (who, it should be said, helped them to two World Series championships over the last seven seasons), it’ll cost them the remaining balance on his $18.5 million salary for 2018.