The Padres announced Monday afternoon that Mike Clevinger, the team's prized acquisition at the 2020 trade deadline, will undergo Tommy John surgery Tuesday and miss the 2021 season.
Clevinger made just three full starts for the club in September, after coming over from the Indians. His arrival was a signal that the Padres were 'all in' for 2020 and beyond. However the 29-year-old right hander was unable to contribute in the team's first postseason appearance since 2006.
Clevinger left after one inning on September 23 against the Angels. An elbow impingement kept him out of their Wild Card series against the Cardinals. He returned for game one of the NLDS against the Dodgers, but exited after throwing his second pitch of the second inning.
Initially, the team did not believe surgery would be required. However, when Clevinger's elbow did not show improvement over the last few weeks, it became clear that surgery would be the best course of action.
"He knows himself, he knows his body and when he wasn't bouncing back great - I don't think he wanted to piece it together this year, and look up and now he has a problem because he's kind of fought his way to May but knows he's not fully right," Preller told reporters Monday. "He sat down, logically walked through the situation. He wants to pitch as bad as anybody, but I think he understood that wasn't best for him or the team going forward."
Even with today's news there is some uncertainty of when the damage was done to his elbow that is now necessitating surgery. Preller believes the problems began in his final full start, a seven-inning complete game shutout against the Giants on September 13.
Clevinger felt discomfort in the final inning of that game, then missed his next scheduled start with biceps tightness, before his brief appearance against the Angels.
Preller does not believe that the push to get the star pitcher ready for the postseason led to today's news.
"We're not gonna put him out there if we felt like he wasn't gonna be able to perform," Preller said. "He felt like he was able to perform, our medical team did, so we put him out there and ultimately he ended up coming off the field and walking off the mound. It's hard to sit there and say it was this exact moment or this exact point.
"My guess is it was something that was in there when he went and took the mound that was gonna happen at some point, or probably had already happened."
The GM also stands by their decision to trade for Clevinger on August 31, saying that they had all the information available - and that injuries like these are just the nature of baseball.
This will be Clevinger's second go-round with Tommy John surgery. He had the procedure in 2012, a year after being drafted by the Angels.
The team also announced a new two-year deal for the righty. He will reportedly make $11.5 million, with three million coming by way of a signing bonus. His base salary is two million in 2021, and he will be due six million after he returns in 2022.
Clevinger's new contract covers his final two arbitrations seasons. He will still be eligible for free agency following the 2022 season.
"He fell in love with the city and the team and he wants to be here."
Preller offered a promising update on Dinelson Lamet, who missed the postseason with biceps tightness. The 28-year-old is back in the Dominican Republic, and Preller says the reports they're getting back are good. He added that Lamet is "feeling great" and is on track to begin his normal throwing program on December 1.
Lamet finished fourth in NL Cy Young voting after going 3-1 with a 2.09 ERA.