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.