The Yankees season has only been over for five days, but there’s already a handful of injuries to take into account as they start to prep for the 2020 season. A flurry of injury announcements Thursday added to the existing list of injuries already on the public radar. Here are the biggest question marks as the Yankees head into the long MLB offseason.
It was announced Thursday that Aaron Hicks will undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow and begin an eight to ten month rehab process, putting him in line for a mid-season return similar to what Didi Gregorius experienced this season. Gregorius can attest to the fact that it’s not easy to come into the middle of a season and produce at your usual level, so there could be a bit of frustration in Hicks’ second season after signing a seven-year extension with the Yankees. Hicks did perform well in his playoff return, so perhaps there’s hope he can miss some time and come back in stride.
Voit did his best to finish out the season and help the Yankees win a World Series, but it didn’t go as planned. He clearly wasn’t the same player as he attempted to play through a sports hernia injury late in the season, and he was ultimately left off the ALCS roster. Voit underwent surgery to repair a bilateral core injury on Thursday morning and is expected to return in time for spring training.
This one came as a major surprise Thursday morning. Brian Cashman informed reporters that Tanaka had arthroscopic surgery to remove bone spurs in his right elbow and expects to be ready for spring training. Obviously it’s good news that Tanaka should be ready for the 2020 season, but it is a concern that Tanaka’s elbow continues to be a problem. Tanaka has previously avoided Tommy John surgery for a partial tear in his elbow, so you have to wonder how many healthy years the veteran right hander has left. One of the Yankees’ most reliable starting pitchers became slightly less reliable with Thursday morning’s news.
The Yankees sorely missed Andujar’s contact skills this postseason, although the emergence of Gio Urshela has made Andujar’s future a bit unclear. Regardless, the Yankees should have a fully healthy Andujar come spring training. After missing most of the 2019 season, Andujar should have a relatively standard offseason, as he’s already hitting and fielding regularly in Tampa. The timing of Andujar’s injury will actually benefit him greatly heading into 2020 with a full offseason of real baseball work, and not just rehab.
Stanton had a nightmare of a season. He battled a PCL injury most of the season, only to suffer a grade two quad strain that held him out of the lineup for most of the ALCS. It will be interesting to see if Stanton needs to undergo any surgical procedures during the offseason, and if not, how he will change his offseason training methods to promote more durability moving forward. It’s unfair to question the approach and training methods of an MVP caliber player, but it’s not unheard of for injury riddled players to find a new approach focused more on flexibility and durability than raw strength and explosion. Everybody knows Stanton’s a beast when he’s on the field, but the question remains, can Stanton stay healthy enough to live up to his contract as the Yankees left fielder? The recovery of his knee and quad injuries will be a key factor of the Yankees’ offseason.
The Yankees’ 2019 season was largely defined by injuries, and it will take a strong rehab effort for these five players to make sure injuries don’t define their 2020 campaigns.