Last August, Phillies starter Vince Velasquez was placed on the 10-day disabled list with what was characterized as a “right middle finger injury.” Shortly thereafter, Velasquez underwent season-ending surgery to repair a vascular issue with his right middle finger. GM Matt Klentak said that Velasquez did not have thoracic outlet syndrome, even though Velasquez visited Dr. Robert Thompson, considered one of the foremost experts on TOS.
It turns out that Velasquez did have TOS and he underwent surgery during the offseason remove his first rib, Joseph Santoliquito of Philly Voice reports. The Phillies never shared this information — which is weird — as searches on Twitter and their press release archive have come up empty.
Velasquez said, “I had that surgery this offseason. I had that thoracic outlet syndrome, but it wasn’t really labeled thoracic outlet syndrome. They removed my first rib, but whatever. What I’m saying is the opportunity to bounce back and stay in the game and not have any injuries, I’m actually more thankful about that part than anything else. I can say this is the healthiest I’ve been in five years – it’s prolonging to that point.”
Velasquez, 25, has been slowed by injuries throughout his baseball career. He had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in September 2010, battled a biceps injury in June 2016, and dealt with a flexor strain his right elbow last May along with TOS. Velasquez carries a 5.05 ERA with a 50/14 K/BB ratio in 41 innings this season. He has shown flashes of greatness, like when he struck out 12 Giants over six innings in his most recent start, but he has also been inconsistent as has been the case throughout his four years in the majors.
Around this time last year, the ink was drying on Manny Machado‘s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres and Bryce Harper was about to put the finishing touches on his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. We had gotten used to premier free agents hanging out in limbo until late February and even into March. This past offseason, however, was a return to normal. The top three free agents — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg — all signed in December. Once the big names are off the board, the lesser free agents subsequently tend to find homes. There were a handful of noteworthy signings in January, but pretty much everyone was off the board when February began.
There are a handful of free agents remaining as I write this, with one name really sticking out: Yasiel Puig. Last season, between the Reds and Indians, Puig hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 611 plate appearances. He was one of only seven players in the league last year to hit at least 24 home runs and swipe at least 19 bases. While Puig has had some problems over the years, he still possesses a rare blend of power and speed that would seem useful.
The Marlins, White Sox, and Rockies have been linked to Puig this offseason. His market has been otherwise quiet since he became a free agent. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests Puig will have to settle for a “pillow contract” — a one-year deal with which Puig reestablishes his market value, aiming to pursue a multi-year deal the following offseason. Along with the aforementioned three teams, Bowden suggests the Mariners, Indians, Pirates, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals as other teams that could potentially fit with Puig, which is not to be confused with teams having expressed interest in his services.