It’s a story as old as the Dead Ball Era: Danny Salazar will miss significant time due to an injury. What is next for the Cleveland Indians pitcher?
What little hope remained for a late-season comeback tour out of Danny Salazar is gone for good. The Cleveland Indians flamethrower has been shut down for the remainder of 2018 after shoulder surgery.
There was a time when news of this sort would have left us asking where the Indians go from here. It wasn’t very long ago that a healthy Salazar would have been starting World Series games behind Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer.
His inability to stay on the field for any prolonged period of time, however, has regrettably created a glass-half-empty pessimism in the minds of Indians fans regarding his health in general. In reality, many were prepared not to see Salazar make an impact on the 2018 season long before the official announcement.
Moreover, Kluber and Bauer have continued to dominate. Carlos Carrasco has experienced (relatively) good health since the broken hand that cost him the entire 2016 postseason. Mike Clevinger has been reliable and Shane Bieber has impressed in a small sample size.
If the Tribe were to insert another pitcher into the rotation in 2018, thus bumping Clevinger or Bieber, it would likely have been an established arm acquired via trade over the up-and-down Salazar anyway.
The question, then, is not what the team’s next move is. It is instead, simply: What is next for Salazar himself?
Salazar has two years of arbitration eligibility left and virtually no negotiating power before he becomes a free agent at the age of 31 in 2021. The Indians can continue to play the wait-and-see game without having to shell out much in payroll, and perhaps Salazar can finally turn the corner health-wise before the team has to make a long-term decision on his roster spot.
That said, Cleveland is pretty set in the starting rotation for the foreseeable future, and could use immediate upgrades elsewhere. Whether it be at the 2018 trade deadline or the offseason, there may be a suitor out there willing to take a flyer on Salazar as part of a trade package built around a bigger piece.
In any case, Salazar showed considerable promise early on, and to see that promise derailed by one tough-luck injury after another is disappointing to say the least. The baseball fan in all of us should hope for a full recovery in the not-too-distant future. The Indians fan in all of us should hope that it comes while Salazar still calls the mound at Progressive Field his home.