UPDATE: Maybe not as great as we thought.
The Phillies say they expect Bryce Harper to return as a DH by the All-Star Break: pic.twitter.com/KozfUf108i— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) November 23, 2022
It’s the news we kind of expected, yet are finally relieved to hear.
According to a person with knowledge of the situation, Bryce Harper had Tommy John surgery today and it went "very well." Could be back hitting competitively by mid-May.— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyNBCS) November 23, 2022
So now we know. No more speculation about how bad the injury was. We know it was bad enough that he needed the full Tommy John surgery and not the internal brace repair (at least according to this). What does this mean for the team?
First, it means that the first two months of the season will be Harper-less, first and foremost. Forget about his getting back on the field at that time, he won’t even be in the lineup. At least the team knows that and can plan for that. He can always see his timeline move up, but if they know he won’t even be able to take at bats at the major league level, that can help with roster planning.
Second, it almost guarantees they will sign one of the shortstops. An “Aaron Judge to the Phillies” signing is simply not feasible with the way the roster is constructed, so the best way to gain some offense is to upgrade the shortstop position. They were always probably going to sign one of them, but this virtually guarantees it. They’ll need more offense than they thought for the full season, so signing one of the bigger offensive threats would be the best way to do so. They can’t count on being able to make up ground against the division once Harper is able to return now that the schedule has been balanced, so each win will be equally important to grab, especially while Harper is out.
Third, this likely assures us of a near full season of Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos in the outfield with their gloves on. This may not have been the plan when they initially signed them, but it’s the plan now. If the Phillies were smart, they would be looking at someone who has a good bat and a good glove who isn’t quite a starter right now, but would be able to come off of the bench once Harper returns to the DH role. Not really sure who that might be, but it is another piece of the puzzle they can look for.
The Harper news isn’t the worst news. It took a little longer to get the surgery than we might have liked......but the team was in the World Series. A perfectly fine tradeoff. Let’s hope the rehabilitation process goes smoothly for Harper.