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Bryce Harper will undergo elbow surgery next week

Bryce Harper will undergo elbow surgery next week

Phillies star Bryce Harper He will undergo elbow surgery next Wednesday to repair his damaged ulnar collateral ligament, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski announced today (Twitter link via Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer). Imaging hasn’t definitively determined whether Harper will need full Tommy John surgery (ie, ligament replacement) or whether an internal bracing procedure might suffice, so the team won’t have a timeline until the surgery.

Harper suffered a UCL tear back in May but was able to continue his 2022 season as the Phillies’ primary designated hitter. Position players who sustain a UCL tear are often able to continue the injury, but throwing is obviously not an option with this type of injury. Even with a full Tommy John surgery, it should be noted that Harper could likely return to the field as the DH for a significant portion of the 2023 season.

Shohei Ohtani, for example, spent the first five weeks or so of the 2019 season on the injured list before returning as a designated hitter. His surgery was performed in early October 2018 — seven weeks into the offseason before Harper went under the knife. Every player’s rehab is different, of course, but a summer comeback would seem plausible even in the worst-case scenario for Harper. If an internal bracket procedure is sufficient, Harper could likely return to a smaller order.

Even with a damaged UCL, Harper remains a force in the middle of the Phillies’ lineup. Harper homered in three consecutive games after his diagnosis and batted .295/.381/.510 the rest of the way after learning the tear. A broken thumb when hit by a pitch sidelined him for a significant portion of the summer, but no injury could keep Harper from mashing himself healthy enough to play. Harper slashed .349/.414/.746 with six home runs and seven doubles in just 71 plate appearances to make his postseason history. His NLCS-winning home run against the Padres will forever be etched in Phillies lore.

Harper is still just four years into the 13-year, $330MM contract he signed as a free agent before the 2019 season, but at this point it’s hard to call the deal anything other than a roaring success. Since putting pen to paper and making Philadelphia his long-term home, Harper has batted a combined .282/.384/.546 (not including this year’s postseason exploits), won an NL MVP award and helped lead the Phillies back to the postseason in 2011. For the first time since He’s still owed $222MM over the nine years remaining on the contract, although the typical AAV for premium players is now north of $30MM, making that $24.667MM AAV look like a bargain for Harper.




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