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Harper Undergoes Tommy John Surgery
After being diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow last May, which limited him to serving as the Phillies' designated hitter for the remainder of the 2022 campaign, fantasy stalwart Bryce Harper underwent Tommy John elbow reconstructive surgery on Wednesday to repair the injury. There was uncertainty whether he would wind up requiring a full ligament replacement, or an internal brace procedure, until the actual surgical procedure took place. Now that we know what the 30-year-old two-time National League MVP is dealing with from a recovery timeline standpoint, the expectation, according to a team statement, is that Harper could return as a designated hitter by the All-Star break and potentially resume playing right field by the conclusion of the regular season. Angels' two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani is among the most recent examples of a position player undergoing Tommy John surgery as he underwent the procedure in October of 2018 and was back serving as the club's designated hitter by early May of the following season. Barring any potential setbacks, it sounds like Harper has a realistic shot at returning sometime in early July.
It's a significant loss for the Phillies, who will be without their primary offensive catalyst for the opening three-plus months of the 2023 season, but there are minimal concerns regarding Harper's on-field performance upon returning as he finished last season with a stellar .286/.364/.514 triple-slash line with 18 home runs and 11 stolen bases in 426 plate appearances over 99 games. He also went on to post a sublime .349/.414/.746 batting line with six round-trippers in 17 games during Philadelphia's improbable Fall Classic run. It's difficult to forecast anything greater than roughly 70 to 80 games for Harper next season, which likely drops him into the middle rounds of mixed league drafts next spring. Given his tremendous plate skills, and track record of elite over-the-fence power, fantasy managers should feel comfortable projecting 15 to 20 home runs and double-digit stolen bases, but the realistic cap on his playing time puts a lid on the potential for even more. The positive news here is that fantasy managers have a fairly firm timeline for Harper's return and confidence that the surgery won't impact his production moving forward, those variables should make him one of the more enticing mid-round selections in fantasy drafts next spring.
Angels' Shopping Spree Nets Renfroe
The Angels' flurry of offseason activity continued on Tuesday evening as general manager Perry Minasian acquired power-hitting corner outfielder – and certifiable Mike Trout doppelganger – Hunter Renfroe from the Brewers in exchange for right-hander's Janson Junk and Elvis Peguero in addition to lefty pitching prospect Adam Seminaris. Los Angeles has been among the most active teams in baseball this offseason, signing left-hander Tyler Anderson to a three-year contract to bolster their starting rotation, in addition to acquiring veteran infielder Gio Urshela from the Twins. They're clearly operating with a sense of urgency, seemingly spurred into action by Ohtani's proximity to free agency, which means that they're not done adding yet.
There have been rumblings that Milwaukee was looking to shed salary this offseason, so it wasn't a total shock that Renfroe, who is in his final year of arbitration, was jettisoned to Los Angeles. Among the league's premier right-handed power-hitting outfielders, Renfroe adds some additional muscle to an Angels' lineup that already includes Trout, Shohei Ohtani and Anthony Rendon. The 30-year-old slugger batted .255/.315/.492 with 62 runs scored, 29 home runs, 72 RBI and one stolen base in 522 plate appearances last year in his lone season with Milwaukee. He possesses the type of prodigious raw power that will play in any ballpark and Angel Stadium has actually registered as one of the more hitter-friendly venues in the game over the last few seasons. He's a virtual lock to eclipse the 30-homer threshold next season and should continue to grade out as one of the more reliable power plus counting stats contributors in the fantasy landscape.
Pirates Extract Díaz From Fish
The rebuilding Pirates continued search for answers at first base resulted in the organization claiming Lewin Díaz off waivers from the Marlins this week. Simply put, it's a phenomenal landing spot for Díaz, who should get a legitimate opportunity next spring to compete with veteran righty-masher Ji-Man Choi for playing time at first base and designated hitter. The 26-year-old slugger is a solid defender at the cold corner, and also possesses prodigious over-the-fence raw power. Yet, he's battled persistent contact issues the last few years in limited opportunities at the highest level. Perhaps a change of scenery will help him blossom into an impact fantasy contributor.
Red Sox Roll Dice On Park
Shortly after being designated for assignment earlier this week by the Pirates, Hoy Park was quickly gobbled up by the Red Sox on Thanksgiving eve in a small trade. The 26-year-old offers plenty of defensive versatility, which gives him some immediate appeal in a reserve role, but he's hit just .201/.291/.346 with five homers and two steals in 210 plate appearances over the last two years in the majors. He'll get a fresh start in Boston.
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MLB Quick Hits: Phillies signed president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski to a three-year contract extension through 2027 … Padres re-signed RHP Nick Martinez to a three-year, $26 million contract … Red Sox signed LHP Joely Rodríguez to a one-year, $1.5 million contract with a $4.25 million club option for 2024 … Brewers signed OF Blake Perkins to a one-year contract … Japanese right-hander Shintaro Fujinami will be officially posted on December 1 by the Hanshin Tigers of Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball … According to Jon Morosi of MLB Network, the Giants are expected to make a formal contract offer to free agent outfielder Aaron Judge within the next week … Morosi also reports that the Rangers are "among the most serious suitors" for free agent left-hander Carlos Rodón … According to multiple reports, the Rockies, Giants and Blue Jays have expressed interest in free agent outfielder Cody Bellinger … Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that Daulton Varsho, Alek Thomas and Jake McCarthy "are in play" to be traded this offseason … Rangers hired Mike Maddux as their next pitching coach and Dayton Moore as a senior advisor to baseball operations … Nick Senzel underwent successful surgery on Monday to repair the broken bone in his fractured left toe … Garrett Whitlock (hip) is scheduled to begin throwing in early December … White Sox pitching coach Ethan Katz told The Athletic that Garrett Crochet (elbow) will likely return next season as a multi-inning reliever … Astros signed INF Dixon Machado to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training … Mets signed RHP Denyi Reyes and LHP Zach Muckenhirn to minor league contracts with invitations to spring training … Reds re-signed RHP Daniel Duarte and OF Allan Cerda to minor league contracts with invitations to spring training … Angels signed RHP Jacob Webb to a minor league contract … Brewers signed RHP Tobias Myers to a minor league contract … Angels re-signed C Chad Wallach to a minor league contract … Twins re-signed SS Elliot Soto to a minor league contract … Red Sox signed OF Narciso Crook to a minor league contract … Mariners signed RHP Jose Rodriguez to a minor league contract … Phillies signed SS Shervyen Newton to a minor league contract … Guillermo Heredia has signed a one-year contract with the SSG Landers in the Korea Baseball Organization … Kyle Keller has re-signed with the Hanshin Tigers of Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball … Charlie Barnes has re-signed with the Lotte Giants of the Korea Baseball Organization … Ariel Jurado has signed with the Kiwoom Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization … Beau Sulser has signed with the KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization.