MINNEAPOLIS — The saga of Tyler Mahley in Minnesota reached the hardest possible conclusion for both player and team, as the Twins announced Thursday that Mahley will undergo season-ending surgery for Tommy John.
The Twins had high hopes when they traded in three of the Reds’ top 30 chances to acquire Mahle at the trade deadline last season to become one of the best tackles of the stretch and their 2023 team. Instead, Mahle started in just nine games for Minnesota — three snapped Including him due to injury — and because he’s an imminent free agent, it could all be in his Twin Cities career.
“I wish I was able to contribute as much as I thought I would, like the team thought I would when they traded for me,” Mahley said. “I never thought I’d be in this situation to have a Tommy John and all that. It’s part of the game. It happens. It’s very frustrating. It’s kind of not something I necessarily did to cause it. It just happened over time from throwing up and everything.” .
Mahley expects to undergo surgery on his right elbow with Dr. Keith Meister either late next week or the week after, and will fly home to Southern California to begin his recovery process.
Mahle was surprised to hear he needed Tommy John surgery when he sought a second opinion about right elbow problems that sent him to the injured list on May 3, after an early exit from his April 27 start against the Royals. Mahle was confused because his pain wasn’t like what was expected for TJ, as his arm felt fine when he moved back while throwing; Instead, he felt a pinch in his elbow while it was being extended at the end of labor.
Originally diagnosing Mahle with an injury to the back of his right elbow and pronation flexor strain, the twins only began to realize that the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) could come into play after its recent closure.
It’s not that Mahle’s UCL is completely ripped; Instead, he lost his normally tight ligament to the point of destabilizing his arm and putting more stress on other muscles in the area — such as the pronation flexor. In contrast, continuing to throw would have put more pressure on the Champions League.
“It was such an easy decision simply because it was so clear, after the second opinion, what I needed to do for my future longevity and health,” Mahley said. “I wouldn’t have been able to come back this year and put on the show so effectively.”
Although Mahle also missed most of last September while dealing with weakness and inflammation in his right shoulder that limited his entry to fours after the trade, the Twins felt his shoulder was in a good place going into the season, and the need for Tommy John surgery was a result unrelated to the general stress and strain on Mahle’s arm throughout his career.
“I felt really good about where he was [the shoulder],” said President of Baseball Operations Derek Valve. “It’s unfortunate that something else has come up. Pitching injuries are, unfortunately, part of the game.”
And while the twins have struggled with a few trades for injured pitchers later under that front office — Sam Dyson in 2019, Chris Paddack in 22, and now, Mahley — Valve emphasized his belief in his group’s process in assessing trades and injury risk, noting that he looks at every Many of these cases differed differently and that Minnesota felt good about the risks it took with Mahley last summer.
“I feel good about the process, and I feel good that we’re taking a risk when the time is right to confront it,” Valve said.
And in the end, the Twins are still in good shape with their starting rotation, building up enough quality depth to overcome two big hits – and maybe more. Billy Uber strode smoothly into the rotation, as expected, and two-time Minor League Regulation Pitcher of the Year Louie Farland showed electric stuff in his return to the majors.
A trade for Pablo Lopez in recent season also looms large, to give the Twins another presence at the top of the rotation, the kind they’d hoped Mahley would be — and still feel good about where they stand.
“I like to have more players than we need – it always feels good,” said coach Rocco Baldelli. “I think every team would like to have that. We got sucked into it, of course, but I think we’re doing a good job.”
“Student. Incurable problem solver. Amateur baconaholic. Introvert. Infuriatingly humble music fanatic.”