KC Royals reliever Luke Hochevar underwent shoulder surgery to treat his Thoracic Outlet Syndrome on Wednesday morning. Hochevar is expected to recover in six months and be ready for spring training in 2017.
Kansas City Star reporter Rustin Dodd tweeted the news Wednesday afternoon:
The 32-year-old Hochever is in the last season of a two-year contract with the Kansas City Royals, but could be re-signed this winter by general manager Dayton Moore as he recovers from his injury. Hochevar’s Thoracic Outlet Syndrome is likely to depress his free-agent value and the KC Royals will have more information about his progress than any other team since he will use the Royals’ rehab facility in his recovery.
Given the Kansas City Royals clear need for more bullpen depth after a tough year for the relief staff in 2016, such a deal wouldn’t surprise me.
Hochevar was enjoying a strong 2016 season before his injury, coming into the month of July with a 2.81 ERA and earning the club’s “fireman” role due to his ability to escape numerous jams early in the season. However, opponents began to hit Hochevar hard in July. His performance crashed to a 8.53 ERA in only 6.1 innings pitched with a low 7.1 K/9. Hitters slashed .346/.393/.577 against him in July.
A healthy Hochevar is a quality arm out of the pen, and I would expect him to cut a one-year “prove it” deal to re-establish his free agent value in 2017. Signing such a contract with the KC Royals, where he is comfortable and plays in front of an outstanding defense, would only make sense.
Hochevar’s return is not assured. According to medscape.com, 72.5% of patients are still restricted to limited activities four years after surgery. That study, however, consisted of typical patients rather than major-league pitchers who have much more incentive to return and better rehab facilities available for their recovery.