Joakim Soria to Have Tommy John Surgery

This news was expected, but Bob Dutton confirms that Joakim Soria will have Tommy John Surgery on April 3rd and is going to miss the entire 2012 season. Given that the average recovery timetable for this injury is 12-18 months, it’s likely that Soria will not be ready for the start of the 2013 season as well.

Soria will be an interesting free agent next winter once the Royals decline their $8 million club option. His prior success will mean that there will be teams interested in picking up the tab for the rest of his rehab in order to get his services for the second half of next year – the Yankees did this with David Aardsma this winter, for instance. UCL replacement has become advanced enough that many pitchers are able to return to something close to their prior form, and Soria is just 28-years-old, so he should still be able to coax a few more good years out of his arm.

The Royals have been getting a lot of grief for not trading Soria before this occurred, and in retrospect, I’m sure they wish they would have moved him when they had the chance. However, it’s also important to understand that injuries are very difficult to predict, and trading young relievers is not always guaranteed to bring back a premium return. After all, Kenny Williams got a lot of flack for dealing Sergio Santos for Nestor Molina this winter. We can’t criticize both rebuilding GMs who trade young cheap closers and rebuilding GMs who keep young cheap closers. The Royals probably should have traded Soria, but this wasn’t in an inevitable outcome, and we can’t fault the Royals for not being able to accurately predict the future.

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Dave is a co-founder of and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

17 Responses to “Joakim Soria to Have Tommy John Surgery”

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  1. Tyler says:

    Lindsay Berra had a great read over on ESPN about TJS and pitcher mechanics. Looking at Soria’s, I can’t say it is at all shocking that he needs to have the procedure done a second time.

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  2. colin says:

    Williams got a lot of flack for that trade? I thought the overwhelming sentiment was that it was a good idea to trade a bullpen arm for a solid prospect considering their best prospect was another big bullpen arm?

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    • Mark says:

      Williams got a lot of criticism because Molina might end up being a middle reliever. And Santos has a fantastic contract.

      I don’t think anybody thought that Williams did a good job on that one. The idea was right in flipping a reliever for a prospect, but he didn’t end up acquiring a good prospect.

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      • MattM says:

        I disagree, we have no idea how good a prospect Molina is just yet, he was insanely good last year, it just comes down to how he deals in the higher levels of the White Sox system.

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    • MikeS says:

      It’s really only a win if Molina develops into a starter. Less a win if the White Sox are competitive in a few years and Molina is pitching high leverage innings out of the pen. Otherwise he got back less than he gave up.

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  3. vivalajeter says:

    “..there will be teams interested in picking up the tab for the rest of his rehab…”

    I’ve always wondered who pays for the rehab process. Is there a central pool of money where all rehab costs comes from, or is it a team-to-team basis? It obviously makes sense for KC to pay for this rehab. But what about someone like Ben Sheets a couple years ago, or Jamie Moyer. They were free agents without a team. Doesn’t really make sense for the Phillies to pay for Moyer’s rehab if he won’t be playing for them anymore.

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    • jim says:

      most of these guys probably have the cash to take care of it themselves

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    • hk says:

      I don’t think Dave’s referring to the actual costs of the rehab as much as he’s talking about a team being willing to pay him a salary in 2013 – assuming that KC declines the option – even if he won’t be available until mid-season.

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  4. pft says:

    A good organization recognizes the signs and trades him after last year. It’s not like they would have been able to afford him much longer anyways.

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  5. Shaun Catron says:

    Didn’t the Royals turn down Soria for Jesus Montero a year ago?


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  6. Shoeless_Mike says:

    Yeah how stupid of the Royals not to have know Perez was going to blow out his knee. What were they thinking…

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    • pft says:

      He already had 1 TJ surgery. His performance declined noticably in 2011, mainly due to command within the strike zone. There are usually signs of impending disaster, velocity, command, strength, performance, etc. Not necessarily all of them, but good organizations recognize the signs and trade at first opportunity. Mariners may have done that with Pineda. Phillies may have recognized the signs with Madson.

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  7. pft says:

    This is Sorias 2nd TJ Surgery. Here is something most people don’t know.

    “The success rate for a second procedure is significantly less
    encouraging. From 1994-2005, James Andrews, md, performed 1,169 UCL reconstructions. Of those, only 12 were players that were returning for their second surgery. Andrews estimates that
    of those 12, only two or three—20 percent—had a chance at returning to their pre-surgery level of baseball.”

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