No pitcher is safe from the elbow injury epidemic.
According to CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury, Phillies ace Cliff Lee underwent an MRI on his left elbow Tuesday after complaining of discomfort. Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer says the veteran ace has been pitching with a flexor pronator strain for three weeks, and now there might be further damage.
Lee tossed 6 2/3 solid innings against the Reds in his last turn through the Phillies’ starting rotation and owns a cool 3.18 ERA with 61 strikeouts in 68 total innings this season. He has never had any major elbow or shoulder issues.
Lee is making a $25 million salary this year and he’s owed another $25 million next year, so Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery (and its 12-15 month recovery process) would be a crushing blow for the Phillies.
An interesting tidbit today from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who noted that ongoing talks between agent Scott Boras and the Padres have focused more on starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel than slugger Bryce Harper. Earlier this week, there were conflicting reports on the Padres’ level of interest in Harper — MLB Network’s Jon Heyman heard the club had not ruled out another big signing after getting Manny Machado, while Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune talked to multiple sources who believed otherwise — but any agreement between the two is looking unlikelier by the day.
As for Keuchel, Rosenthal cautions that a potential deal is still a “longshot,” especially as the team has other, cheaper options in mind. The 31-year-old southpaw turned down a qualifying offer from the Astros last year and is likely angling for something north of the five-year, $90 million contract extension he rejected from the club in 2016. He’s coming off of another solid performance in Houston, where he went 12-11 in 34 starts with a 3.74 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 6.7 SO/9, and 3.6 fWAR through 204 2/3 innings in 2018.
While Keuchel has failed to garner substantial interest around the league this offseason, Heyman points out that the Phillies are looking to establish themselves as frontrunners for the lefty — and they’re far less likely to have hang-ups about his asking price, too.