DETROIT -- Twins reliever Sam Dyson underwent a successful capsule repair surgery in his right shoulder on Tuesday, performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles. The procedure will end Dyson's 2019 season and also put his '20 campaign in jeopardy.
The procedure carries an estimated return timeline of around 12 months, according to manager Rocco Baldelli. Neither he nor chief baseball officer Derek Falvey could predict at this time whether Dyson would be able to return to the field at some point next season.
"I wouldn't put anything past Sam," Baldelli said. "He's in great shape. He's still a young guy. I think he has a chance to really work through this. You know he’s going to work hard and give himself every opportunity, so I wouldn't be surprised if he was back in 12 months and throwing. But you have to let the body heal, and again, every one of these surgeries is different."
Dyson posted a 7.15 ERA in 12 appearances for the Twins, but he last pitched on Sept. 3 against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. A week and a half later, Dyson tried to throw in Cleveland, but he shut himself down when he felt an issue in his shoulder after two throws. According to Baldelli, Dyson had initially hoped that time would help resolve the issue but, considering the suggestions of doctors, he determined that surgery would be necessary.
The Twins acquired Dyson at the July 31 Trade Deadline for Jaylin Davis, Prelander Berroa and Kai-Wei Teng in the hopes that Dyson and Sergio Romo would solidify the late-innings core of Minnesota's bullpen. Fortunately for the Twins, Tyler Duffey and Trevor May have taken massive steps forward this season to mitigate the impact of losing Dyson.
"He's somebody who we certainly were expecting to be a big part of what we were doing here in the bullpen," Falvey said. "The value of our team is that everyone steps up behind one another, and you never know how injuries are going to go over the course of the season."
Here's a quick look into some questions surrounding Dyson's situation and where Minnesota and the right-hander could go from here:
What does the recovery process look like?
Dyson will need five or six months of recovery time before he could begin a throwing program, according to Falvey and Twins head athletic trainer Tony Leo. Once that time has elapsed and Dyson has full function restored to his shoulder, he would begin a more typical pitching rehab process: long toss, throwing off a mound and then easing into game action.
All of that adds up to the aforementioned estimate of 12 months before Dyson could return to the field.
What could stop Dyson from pitching next season?
According to Leo, the main concern in the recovery from shoulder capsule surgery is reestablishing a full and normal range of motion in the joint, which is what Dyson will need to wait for before progressing to throwing. Dyson would not be able to begin a pitching program if he can't fully control his shoulder and use it in all of the directions and range necessary to perform his delivery.
What is Dyson's contract status for 2020?
The 31-year-old has one remaining season of arbitration eligibility, meaning that the Twins will face a decision in December as to whether or not to tender Dyson a contract for the 2020 season. If the club were to non-tender the right-hander, he would immediately become a free agent. In such a scenario, Minnesota could still bring Dyson back on a renegotiated deal if the two sides were to agree on the terms of a contract.
Of course, this Twins front office has set a recent precedent of agreeing to contractual terms with an injured pitcher, as they signed Michael Pineda to a two-year, $10 million deal before the 2018 season while he recovered from Tommy John surgery, with the understanding that the big right-hander would only be a significant presence in their starting rotation in '19.
Why didn't this come up until Dyson came to Minnesota?
When he was first sidelined due to injury, Dyson said that he had been pitching through discomfort in his shoulder since a mid-July trip to Colorado as a member of the Giants. Throughout the injury saga, both Baldelli and Dyson said that the right-hander, like many pitchers, would throw through some issues at times.
Falvey said at the time that the Twins were comfortable with the medical reports on Dyson when they acquired him, and he reinforced that statement on Wednesday as he emphasized the need to look ahead and work with Dyson on his recovery. Dyson posted a 2.25 ERA in 12 July outings for the Giants before the trade, including 11 scoreless appearances.
"Yeah, it’s disappointing, certainly, I would say, with respect to what he was feeling when he was pitching here the first couple weeks with us and probably something that he was feeling for a while," Falvey said. "So it’s difficult. That process, in terms of acquisition of players, it’s not a complete process always, so I think it’s a reality of the business that we're in, and I think it’s an unfortunate outcome."