When general manager Rick Hahn announced that Carlos Rodon had a significant arm injury last week, he said that everything was on the table, including Tommy John surgery.
The White Sox haven't had anything to say since about whether that will or won't be Rodon's fate, but it sounds like at least one doctor has made that recommendation, per a report from Jon Heyman.
White Sox are awaiting the results of a second doctor’s opinion on Carlos Rodon’s elbow before devising a plan of action. The first opinion suggested Tommy John surgery. Rodon and the team discussed this possibility a few days ago.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) May 6, 2019
As Heyman mentioned, both Hahn and Rodon addressed that possibility the day the injury was announced, with Rodon going as far to say: "If it's Tommy John, so be it to get me back on this field."
That would be the capper on top of what is already a brutal blow for the White Sox, who would lose another young pitcher to the procedure after Zack Burdi, Michael Kopech and Dane Dunning have all been shelved after having the surgery in recent years. Burdi's back, pitching at Double-A Birmingham, but Kopech and Dunning are still on the mend. Kopech's not expected to be back on a big league mound until the 2020 season. Dunning's surgery came later and could be facing a further off return date.
If Rodon is sidelined for roughly a year while in recovery mode, that would have more negative effects on the White Sox planned rotation of the future. Heading into 2020, a year pegged as one where the White Sox could make the transition from rebuilding to contending, Kopech will have just four major league appearances under his belt, Dylan Cease is unlikely to have too many more than that, Dunning will still be recovering and Rodon could be out for a big chunk of the campaign, too. It might not prevent the White Sox from leaping into contention mode, but that's all hardly ideal.
There's another factor in this whole thing when it comes to Rodon, whose contract is up after the 2021 season. If he goes on a yearlong hiatus while recovering from Tommy John surgery, that gives the White Sox just a year and a half of team control by the time he comes back until the time he's scheduled to hit free agency.
Though they seemed prepared for the possibility last week, another young starting pitcher that has to have Tommy John surgery would obviously be tough news for the White Sox as their rebuilding project moves forward.