Jake Smolinski, an outfielder on the Oakland Athletics, is scheduled to undergo shoulder shoulder surgery on Friday, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. His shoulder has been bothering him since the start of spring training and simply has not gotten better.
According to the Fantasy Doctor’s Dr. Selene Parekh, the timetable is difficult to predict with the Athletics specifying on the surgery. But the best case scenario is a shoulder impingement surgery, which would cause him to miss four weeks. However, he may have suffered a torn labrum or rotator cuff that would require four to six months to properly heal.
While the specifics of the injury are yet to be revealed, Oakland does know they will need to find a replacement for Smolinski while he is out.
Smolinski batted .238 with seven home runs in 290 at-bats with Oakland last season. He was on track to split playing time in right field with Matt Joyce. Smolinski hit .276 against left-handed pitchers in 2016 while Joyce excelled against right-handed hitters while with the Pirates in 2016.
Joyce, who was signed to be a platoon hitter against right-handed hitters, may end up seeing more at-bats against left handed hitters in Smolinski’s absence. Joyce hit .242 with 13 home runs in just 231 at-bats with Pittsburgh last season. Expect his power numbers to increase as Oakland gives him more at-bats. He is not worth owning in 12-team leagues yet, but is worth monitoring as someone who walks and has power.
Matt Olson, a former first round draft pick in 2012, is expected to see the biggest increase in playing time now that Smolinski is no longer competing for at-bats. Though he will split time with Joyce he has the power to possibly take hold of right field himself. At 22 years old, he stands 6 feet 5 inches and 230 pounds. He has hit 103 minor league home runs since being drafted, including a 37 home run 2014 season. The power is certainly there, despite having a poor batting average. Smolinski is likely to miss the majority if not all of the 2017 season, providing Olson with more playing time than ever at the major league level.