McCullers (elbow) agreed to a one-year, $4.1 million deal with the Astros, avoiding arbitration, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports. This is McCullers' second year of arbitration, and while his talent would typically dictate a larger one-year salary, the fact that he will miss the entire 2019 season recovering from Tommy John surgery worked against him. He will return for 2020 and will be under team control again for the 2021 season before hitting the open market.
McCullers underwent Tommy John surgery Tuesday and will miss the entire 2019 season, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports. This is a brutal blow for McCullers and the Astros. The southpaw dealt with a forearm/elbow issue for the final two months of the 2018 campaign, and surgery was ultimately deemed necessary following further evaluation. He'll now begin a long recovery process that will keep him from pitching competitively until at least 2020. McCullers posted a 3.86 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 142:50 K:BB across 128.1 innings in 2018.
General manager Jeff Luhnow said Monday that McCullers could require surgery to address a lingering elbow injury, which would sideline the right-hander for the entire 2019 season, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports. Shortly after the Astros were eliminated from the postseason, manager A.J. Hinch hinted that McCullers could miss a large chunk of the 2019 campaign with the elbow issue, so Luhnow's comments only further cloud the 25-year-old's forecast. Luhnow added that McCullers is expected to receive further consultations from doctors in the near future, so more clarity on his situation should come later in the offseason. At least for the time being, McCullers doesn't profile as much more than a late-round dart for early drafters, given his sketchy health outlook.
McCullers' elbow woes could potentially cost him a large part of the 2019 season, manager A.J. Hinch said on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM on Tuesday. Injuries are nothing new for the 25-year-old. He was limited to just 128.1 innings in 2018, though that was actually a career high. His status for the upcoming season is unclear -- Hinch was somewhat vague about the severity of the issue, saying that "nothing is off the table" but not offering any concrete timeline. A clearer picture will likely come into focus closer to the start of next season. Owners making offseason keeper decisions should be aware that McCullers' injury problems are as present as ever.
McCullers struck out one over two-thirds of an inning in a 5-2 win over Baltimore in the nightcap of Saturday's doubleheader. This was McCullers' second appearance since coming off the disabled list, and it was stressful: The bases were loaded with one out in the seventh inning. After a wild pitch plated a run, McCullers settled in to get a strikeout and groundout. He's not assured of a postseason roster spot, as manager A.J. Hinch needs to determine if the right-hander's arsenal is where it needs to be after he made just two appearances since July.