Milwaukee Brewers reliever Corey Knebel on Friday told reporters that he's decided to undergo Tommy John surgery on his injured right elbow. He'll miss the entirety of the 2019 season as a result.
Corey Knebel will undergo Tommy John surgery on Wednesday. Dr. Neal ElAttrache will perform the surgery.— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) March 29, 2019
“Had it for five years and it got a little worse,” Knebel said.
Knebel was presented two options: TJ surgery and miss all season, or attempt rehab and make it back sometime in summer. The risk was that if rehab didn’t work, then he would need surgery after all, and essentially miss two whole seasons. At 27 years old, made sense to do it now.— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) March 29, 2019
Knebel is coming off a 2018 season in which he pitched to a 115 ERA+ and 4.00 K/BB ratio in 55 1/3 innings and missed more than a month due to a hamstring injury. The prior season, Knebel saved 39 games for the Brewers and made the All-Star team.
Knebel is under contract for $5.125 million this season and isn't eligible for free agency until after the 2021 season. Assuming a normal recovery, Knebel should still be part of Milwaukee's near- to mid-term window as contenders.
The Brewers are also without reliever Jeremy Jeffress, who opened the season on the injured list because of right shoulder weakness. Even though he figures to return by mid April or so, his absence adds to the Brewers' bullpen concerns.
Speaking of which, Milwaukee has been linked to the still-available Craig Kimbrel in recent weeks, and the loss of Knebel may intensify their interest in the decorated closer.