The Yankees' offseason is off to a rocky start.
As if the Yankees weren't dealing with enough disappointment being eliminated from the postseason Tuesday, the club announced Friday that star shortstop, Didi Gregorius, was set to undergo Tommy John surgery. Gregorius reportedly suffered the injury during the American League Division Series, and an MRI after the loss revealed a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing arm.
While the Yankees are optimistic that Gregorius will be able to participant in a bulk of the 2019 season, the recuperation time period from the common surgery is not all that common. The timeframe for return is typically shorter in duration for position players (9-10 months versus, 12-18 for pitchers), however each case is different.
The Yankees do not have to go far to understand the timing, as current second baseman Gleyber Torres underwent Tommy John surgery back in mid-June of 2017. The biggest distinction here is that Torres' surgery was conducted on his non-throwing arm after getting hurt sliding into home plate in a minor league game.
The Yankees can surely utilize a bulk of the programming used for the rehab process as a guide for Gregorius. However, the wrinkle of this is his throwing arm, one that has to be strong for throws from the deepest part of the infield. Torres was fortunate to have a smooth ramp up from the surgery to getting back on the field, which was approximately eight full months as he was ready for spring training. One would suspect the timetable for Gregorius to be slightly longer.
Of course, not everything goes to plan and the Yanks can look across town to see an instance of a position player struggling through his rehabilitation process.
Mets infielder T.J. Rivera underwent surgery to repair a torn UCL in his right throwing arm just over one year ago. His original timetable for a return was May this season, however that was pushed to July.
Rivera, then, suffered a sprain in the elbow, which took him well off course. He didn't get into rehab games until late in the season before being shut down once again with another elbow sprain.
Rivera will now have the offseason to get back to full health, but a completely lost season for a 29-year-old is not optimal. That's especially true for Gregorius, and leads to interesting factors for the club to ponder.
The Yankees may have been considering a long-term extension with Gregorius, who is heading to his final season before hitting the free agent market. Any trepidation the club had in extending Gregorius has a new wrinkle. If he can make it back in 9-10 months, and like Torres without any ill affects, the situation is much different from enduring bumps in the road like Rivera has encountered.
There is, of course, the Yankees potential pursuit of free-agent-to-be, Manny Machado this offseason. Machado is believed to have the Yanks on his list of potential landing spots, and Gregorius' injury could provide further interest on New York's part.
Gregorius has shown the ability to come back strong (and quickly) from injuries in the past, including a torn ligament in his right wrist late this season. While this injury is uncharted territory for Gregorius, it is not around the league, giving hope that the Yankees will have their infield general on the diamond sooner than later.