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Report: Shohei Ohtani likely to have Tommy John surgery, will be out until 2020

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Pedro Gomez of ESPN reported overnight that the Los Angeles Angels expect Ohtani to undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the remainder of the 2018 season and the entire 2019 season. Here was Gomez’s comment on SportsCenter:

“Everything I’m hearing is that the reality is, he probably will need Tommy John surgery . . . The earliest we might see him, should he have TJ surgery, would be the 2020 season.”

There has been no confirmation by the Angels or anyone close to Ohtani, but nor has there been contradiction. We’ll obviously hear more on this today.

Ohtani was diagnosed with a Grade 2 UCL strain late last week. He underwent a platelet-rich plasma and stem cell injections, with the idea being that he could avoid surgery by doing so. Such a path has worked for Masahiro Tanaka and some other pitchers, but it’s by no means foolproof. The Angels were going to reevaluate him in three weeks. At this point, waiting the three weeks before surgery would likely not harm his timetable should surgery then be decided, so it’s possible that the Angels will still wait and see.

If Ohtani does go under the knife, however, it would be sad, sad ending to his breakout rookie season. Ohtani has wowed baseball by being its first effective two-way player in nearly a century, going 4-1 with a 3.10 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 61/20 in 49.1 innings as a starter and hitting .289/.372/.535 with six homers and 20 RBI in 129 plate appearance as a part-time designated hitter.

Ohtani turns 24 early next month. He signed with the Angels this past offseason as a free agent, but is subject to a full six years of team control per MLB’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. For that reason this setback will not substantially impact the Angels financially nor impact Ohtani’s near or mid-range future in Major League Baseball from a financial perspective, but it’s obviously a big blow to him, the Angels and fans who have come to enjoy him in his brief time in the States.

Here’s hoping he can avoid surgery and get back to his old self via rehab. Given the Angels’ and Ohtani’s long-term interests, however, and given this report, that’s not seeming particularly likely.

UPDATE: Angels’ GM Billy Eppler is denying that any decisions have been made along these lines:

Obviously, of course, the internal chatter Gomez is hearing could be part of the decision making process, so it does not necessarily rebut the report. We’ll know for sure when the Angels announce something for sure.

Giants nearing deal with Cameron Maybin

Cameron Maybin
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The Giants are finalizing a minor league deal for free agent outfielder Cameron Maybin, according to Andrew Baggarly and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The team has not confirmed the signing, but it’s in keeping with their stated goal of adding more veteran presence and outfield options to their roster in advance of the 2019 season.

Maybin, 31, appeared in back-to-back gigs with the Marlins and Mariners in 2018. He slashed an underwhelming .249/.326/.336 with four home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 15 chances), a .662 OPS, and 0.5 fWAR through 384 plate appearances for the two clubs, a clear improvement over his totals in 2017 but still shy of the career numbers he posted with the Padres all the way back in 2011. It’s not only his offense that has tanked, but his speed and defense in center field, all of which he’ll try to improve as he jockeys for a roster spot in camp this month.

The Giants’ outfield has been largely depleted of any kind of consistent talent lately, especially taking into account the recent departures of Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, and Gorkys Hernández. Even with the acquisition of, say, All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper, there’s nothing standing in the way of Maybin and fellow veteran signee Gerardo Parra grabbing hold of full- or part-time roles this year, though they’ll need to outperform candidates like Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar, Drew Ferguson, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Craig Gentry, Mike Gerber, and others first.

In a previous report on Friday, Baggarly revealed that a “handshake understanding” had been established with several veteran players already this offseason, all but guaranteeing them regular starting opportunities over the course of the season. How those agreements will be affected by spring training performances remains to be seen, but at least for now, the Giants appear prepared to give their newest players a long leash as they try to get back on top in the NL West.