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Will Tyler Glasnow pitch again for the Rays?

Rays Tales | Having to pay the talented right-hander to rehab for a year makes for an interesting situation.
While Tyler Glasnow is on the road to rehab, the Rays will have plenty to ponder regarding his future with the team.
While Tyler Glasnow is on the road to rehab, the Rays will have plenty to ponder regarding his future with the team. [ MENGSHIN LIN | Times ]
Published Aug. 7, 2021

BALTIMORE — For now, all the Rays can do is wait on Tyler Glasnow. Then decide if he will pitch again for the franchise.

The talented starter had surgery Wednesday to fix what turned out to be a substantial tear in his cranky elbow, and by all accounts it went well.

He had a hybrid procedure performed by Dr. Keith Meister, where in addition to the standard Tommy John ligament repair/replacement, there is also an internal brace — a suture-like tape coated in collagen — attached to the new ligament, which is designed to strengthen it and prevent further injury, especially in hard throwers. (Reliever Colin Poche is rehabbing from a similar hybrid procedure.)

The overall recovery time is 12-14 months, so Glasnow likely won’t return until the 2023 season. While anyone familiar with Glasnow knows he will attack the rehab program, there probably isn’t much sense — given his career path and the financial opportunities ahead — to risk anything in rushing back for the final weeks of 2022.

“I talked to him (Friday), he’s in good spirits,” current Rays and former Pirates teammate Austin Meadows said. “Obviously sucks that we won’t have him for the rest of this year or next year. But I know he’s doing everything he can to get back as soon as possible. Losing him, it’s a huge thing. But he’s obviously getting the surgery and he’s got a bright future ahead of him. And that’s what’s most important. So we know he’s on the road to recovery, and we can’t wait to have him back.”

Glasnow, who turns 28 this month, is under the Rays’ control for 2022 and 2023. He is eligible for arbitration both seasons, then is a free agent for 2024 and in line, if healthy, for mega-millions in a multi-year deal.

He made $4 million this season, and based on his dominant performance before the mid-June injury (5-2, 2.66 in 14 starts), he is in line for a raise in the $5-7 million range. Assuming he doesn’t pitch in 2022, he’d likely get the same salary for 2023.

There's no easy solution when it comes to Tyler Glasnow's future with the Rays.
There's no easy solution when it comes to Tyler Glasnow's future with the Rays. [ MENGSHIN LIN | Times ]

So using $6 million as the guesstimate, the Rays could:

Cut him loose. Decide they don’t want to invest roughly $12 million for one season in which Glasnow’s innings will be limited and decline to tender him a 2022 contract, making him a free agent. (That also gives them an opportunity to re-sign him at a lower rate. But his comfort with the organization and relationship with pitching coach Kyle Snyder quickly could be offset by teams offering much more.)

Play it straight. Pay Glasnow $6 million to not pitch in 2022 and $6 million to pitch — assuming/gambling the rehab and recovery go well — in 2023 when he should be ready from the start but will have to be handled with care. Then let him leave as a free agent after the season. If $12 million for one hopefully healthy 2023 season sounds like a lot, consider if Glasnow had finished this year as he started, he might have made close to that in 2022, and thus a lot more in 2023.

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Trade him sooner. There will be a window after the season ends and before contracts have to be tendered (which puts the Rays on the hook for the $6 million) when they could trade Glasnow. How much would a team give up for a pitcher early in the rehab process that they then would have to pay for two years and get only one on the mound? It depends on the team. A big-market team might see it as well worth the gamble with an inside track to sign him as a free agent. The Rays at least discussed such a scenario with the Cubs, per The Athletic, as part of several deadline deal discussions.

Trade him later. The Rays could commit to paying Glasnow for 2022, then gamble as he gets closer to full health by next July that there will be more interest. More likely, they’d have to sign him back for 2023, then look to trade him in spring training or at the July 2023 deadline as a rental, getting what they can in prospects while knowing they don’t have a chance to keep him as a free agent.

Work out a multi-year deal. This might be most attractive to the Rays and least appealing to Glasnow, but they could guarantee him his 2022-23 money (and maybe even a little more) in return for an option on 2024, his first free-agent year. That extra year of control when Glasnow will be 30 and, in theory, unencumbered by any issues or pitch limits would be extremely valuable to the Rays, or in a trade. There would seem little reason for Glasnow to want to do this.

Rays rumblings

DJ Johnson was excited to be traded back to the Rays, the team he first signed with in 2010.
DJ Johnson was excited to be traded back to the Rays, the team he first signed with in 2010. [ MARC TOPKIN | Times ]

Beyond the obvious prospects, two young pitchers the Rays got asked about at the trade deadline were High-A Bowling Green’s Taj Bradley and Low-A Charleston’s Seth Johnson. … In 2010, DJ Johnson and Pete Woodworth were teammates on the Rays’ rookie-level Gulf Coast League team. They’ve remained friends and last week got to share a big-league field: Johnson now pitching again for the Rays; Woodworth, a St. Petersburg native and St. Pete Catholic product, the second-year pitching coach for Seattle. … Making only one trip to the West Coast is a big plus of the 2022 schedule. Not so much: three cold-weather cities in April (Boston, Toronto, Chicago for both teams); three one-city trips; a 10-game, 11-day journey to Toronto, Boston, Cincinnati; a potentially brutal September playing the Jays seven times, Astros and Yankees six each, Red Sox three. … The 10-run inning against the Yankees on July 29 wasn’t good for all of the Rays. First-base coach Ozzie Timmons, who usually does 10 pushups for each run the next half inning, had to stop at 70, then do the other 30 the next inning. … Outfielder Yoshi Tsutsugo, traded by the Rays then demoted by the Dodgers, has found his groove a bit with Triple-A Oklahoma City, hitting .352 with six homers, 20 RBIs and a 1.144 OPS over his last 21 games (through Friday), and is looking to get back to the majors. ... Johnson has a full beard, like ZZ Top/Duck Dynasty full, and and manager Kevin Cash has noticed: “He’s not going to be confused for (reliever Andrew Kittredge); his beard is a little bit better than Kitt’s.” ... With No. 1 Wander Franco graduated, Kiley McDaniel’s ESPN.com midseason top 50 prospect update has pitcher Shane Baz at No. 19 and infielder Vidal Brujan No. 34, with Greg Jones and Josh Lowe among 20 others also considered.

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