Reports last week suggested that the Orioles were expecting the worst with Matt Wieters’ elbow injury and sure enough the team just announced that the catcher will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery.
The recovery time for Tommy John surgery is generally much shorter for position players than for pitchers, but that isn’t as clear cut for catchers and at the very least Wieters is looking at 6-9 months on the sidelines.
Wieters was off to a very good start before being shut down, hitting .308 with five homers and an .839 OPS in 26 games. He’s never cracked an .800 OPS in a season previously, so for Wieters to provide big-time value to the Orioles he’ll need to make a full recovery and get back behind the plate on a regular basis.
Baltimore acquired veteran catcher Nick Hundley from San Diego when Wieters went down, so he figures to see most of the action for the remainder of the season and could be an option for the Orioles in 2015 as well depending on Wieters’ recovery status heading into his final season of pre-free agency team control.
Free agent right-hander Ervin Santana picked up a minor league deal with the White Sox, according to various reports Friday. Per Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com, Santana will make $4.33 million if he manages to crack the major-league roster this spring. Any official confirmation from the team is still dependent on the results of a physical.
The veteran righty hasn’t seen any action in MLB for some time. He was laid low by prolonged discomfort in his right middle finger last spring, and underwent a capsular release/debridement procedure that kept him off the mound for all but 24 2/3 innings of his 2018 campaign with the Twins. When healthy, however, he’s been as durable and productive as they come. Santana earned his second career All-Star distinction in 2017 and pitched to a 16-8 record in 33 starts with three shutouts, a 3.28 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 7.1 SO/9, and 2.9 fWAR through 211 1/3 innings.
Barring further complications with his pitching hand, the 36-year-old should be a stabilizing force for the White Sox’ rotation in 2019 — assuming he can beat out southpaw Manny Bañuelos and right-handers Jordan Stephens and Dylan Covey for a back-end role, that is. According to FanGraphs, the club’s starters ranked worst in the league in 2018 with a collective 5.07 ERA, 5.18 FIP, and 3.1 fWAR.