Phillies star Brice Harper President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski announced todayTwitter link via Scott Lauber of The Philadelphia Inquirer). The team is undecided as to whether imaging Harper will need full Tommy John surgery (ie, a ligament replacement) or whether an internal brace will suffice.
Harper was diagnosed with a UCL tear in May, but is set to continue the 2022 season as Felix’s primary designated hitter. Players who sustain UCL tears are usually able to continue hitting, but throwing is clearly not an option with such an injury. It’s worth noting that even with full Tommy John surgery, Harper could return to the field as a DH for a significant portion of the 2023 season.
Shohei OhtaniFor example, he spent just the first five weeks of the 2019 season on the injured list before returning as a special hitter. The surgery was performed in It’s early October 2018 – seven weeks before Harper went under the knife during the holidays. Every player’s recovery is different, of course, but a summer comeback looks plausible even at worst for Harper. If the inner bracket is good enough, Harper will likely be back in short order.
Even with an injured UCL, Harper has been a force in the middle of the Phillies’ lineup. Harper hit .295/.381/.510 the rest of the way with a homer in three straight games following his diagnosis. A sprained thumb when hit by a pitch kept him out for a significant portion of the summer, but neither injury could stop Harper from grinding it out when he was healthy enough to play. His postseason was historic, as Harper slashed .349/.414/.746 with six home runs and seven doubles in 71 plate appearances. His NLCS-winning home run against the Padres is forever etched in Phillies history.
Harper is only four years into the 330mm contract he signed as a free agent before the 2019 season, but it’s hard to call the deal anything other than a rousing success to this point. Since putting pen to paper and making Philadelphia his long-term home, Harper has hit .282/.384/.546 (not including this season’s home runs), winning the NL MVP award and helping lead the Phillies back to the postseason. For the first time since 2011, he’s still owed $222MM over the remaining nine years, although with the typical AAV for premium players now north of $30MM, this $24.667MM AAV for Harper looks like a bargain.