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Monday, December 5, 2022

Elias Diaz Undergoes Right Elbow Surgery, Out 7-9 Weeks

The Pittsburgh Pirates announced on Monday afternoon that catcher Elias Diaz will undergo right elbow surgery this week. Once the surgery is completed, they will release additional details of the procedure and the rehab process will be outlined. No other details are available, but a tweet from earlier noted that it wasn’t Tommy John surgery.

Diaz was beginning to throw during Extended Spring Training and said that the elbow felt better, but he has obviously had a setback since then. The elbow injury shut him down in the middle of Spring Training and he has not played since.

UPDATE: Wednesday, 11:30 AM: Diaz underwent successful surgery yesterday according to Pirates head trainer Todd Tomczyk. The procedure was called “elbow debridement” which is basically just cleaning up the elbow. Diaz’s estimated return time is 7-9 weeks, which would be around July 1st.

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John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.


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Good God, it’s debridement surgery. That probably just means clean-up. Let’s get more details, but there’s no mention of ligament or structural damage.

Bill W

I would lock up Cervelli with Nutting’s money. I would not speculate on how Diaz comes back and if his arm is as strong as before. Obvously they value Cervelli. It’s a no brainer.


… and if they need to find some additional funds in their budget, they could always jettison Niese and his salary after the season. What a lopsided trade that is turning out to be so far.


Niese probably won’t be in rotation come August. His only hope is the Pirates can’t find in-season bullpen help and Nicasio gets volunteered.


7-9 weeks, okay still enough time for him to ramp up and be available for us next year and late this year

John K

Would Cervelli decline a qualifying offer if it’s around $17 million? The estimate for him now is what, $60 million over four years? I doubt the Pirates give him that.


I hope they offer it. At worst, he turns it down and we get a comp pick (at least by today’s rules)?

Luke S

Diaz situation almost makes the decision too easy.

Cervelli accepts a QO? You judge gave Diaz time to have an offseason to get ready to go, and booting Stewart isnt financially tough. You get 1 more season out of Cervelli with Diaz as his backup and transitioning in.

Cervelli declines it? You make a decision on how best to move forward and have the extra draft pick.

Blaine Huff

Much better prognosis that I’d hoped. With any luck, he’s back to himself by August and can get two months of solid baseball in, plus maybe a little something in the fall/winter.


Is that when he’ll be healthy or is that when he’ll actually be able to play a game “in anger”?

Blaine Huff

I never know how this injury stuff works…not sure if 7-9 weeks is “he’ll be healed in a month and it’ll take another to get back to form” or “can resume baseball activities”. So I always tag a month onto the end and that seems to work 🙂


I heard the broadcasters say something tonight which made it seem this is an injury which would be more like 4-6 weeks than 4-6 months. maybe just removing bone chips or a more basic cleanup to remove an impingement


Yea, bad news on top of bad news. Cole absolutely sucked last night and now this. Although it’s not that unexpected, at least it’s not Tommy John based on what Tim just said.


I’m a businessman. This is a business. Cervelli though loved and adored is not a good 2-3 year investment at the money he will command . Diaz injury is bad timing but McGuire is capable of catching in the bigs defensively. He’s under control and cost effective. Cover his bat and remember, Stew is good to go next year contractually. Then you have for 2017 Diaz and McGuire for a very nice stretch. It’s business.


QO Francisco…that way we get him for one more year.


Better yet. Isn’t Jaso a catcher?


Not anymore. Too many concussions

William R. Maloni Sr

How about getting a double reinforced helmet for Jaso and let him return behind the plate, dreads and all; Bucs haven’ had a left handed hitting catcher since….Milt May(??).



Blaine Huff

Hopefully Diaz can do something this season, but I’m doubtful.

Without more details, my first guess is that if this was a minor procedure and he could be back in a couple of months, it would’ve been performed already and Diaz would be rehabbing. It feels like the org did everything it could to hope this got better on its own.

I’m glad the team got Cervelli and that’s he’s been such a high-performer, but a small market team giving a catcher in his 30s 11-12% of the payroll for three seasons…what could possibly go wrong with that?


It’s absolutely a risk, but is it any more so than giving the same commitment over the same length at the same age to a starting pitcher with a Tommy John already under his belt?

Because they did exactly that with Francisco Liriano.

I’m not wild, at all, about extending Cervelli and think there an extremely small chance he performs each year of that hypothetical 3 yr extension at a 2 WAR level or above, but I think this injury has to force them to reevaluate what they’re going to do moving forward.

Blaine Huff

I don’t think the TJS is an adequate comparison. For decades pitchers have shown it’s possible to come back from that surgery.

Coming back from age? Meh, not so much. Especially for catchers.

Russell Martin dropped 45 points in OPS going from his age 31 to 32 season last year…and it would’ve been a much more massive drop if it weren’t for more than doubling his HRs from the season before. Now, in his age 33 season? Yikes, you might not want to look directly at stats…poke a pinhole through a piece of paper or something, but:

.373 OPS, 31 Ks in 63 ABs.

But, I agree…the team is going to have to come up with something.

FWIW, MLB Trade Rumors listed it’s top 10 2016-17 free agents today, Cervelli is 9th, here’s a blurb: “As it stands now I could see a four-year deal worth $60MM, and I think he could have a shot at five years if his offensive success continues.”


I don’t think you’re considering what TJS means…

Factually speaking, the greatest indicator of a future TJS is a past TJS. Certain studies have estimated, on average, a pitcher will get about 600 IP out of a TJS. Some go back under immediately, others never do.

And obviously, Liriano is also getting older while this is happening, so the age argument is there as well.

I don’t touch a four or five year deal, but if he’s willing to sign that rumored three year extension I’d have a really tough time arguing against.

Blaine Huff

Actually, just for fun…and because I’m bored at work…I found this and dug through the data:


I can’t attest to it’s completeness…and I might’ve missed a name or two, but it’s a log Tommy John surgeries for baseball players from high school to MLB.

After digging for an hour or so, here’s what I found….

Of 1,217 TJS’s performed, a little over 400 were on players who made it to the majors. Of those pitchers, 40 or 10% required a second surgery. Of those, 12 required the second surgery during the rehab/retool period (within two years of the initial surgery.)

If you go three years out from the initial surgery, the numbers plunge even more. Of the 40 who required a second procedure, 19 had it within three years of the first.

The Pirates signed Liriano eight years after his surgery. The number of pitchers who made it that long after the surgery and required another? Seven.

So, out the 400+ ML pitchers who had it, Less than ten needed it again after eight seasons.

Sorry for nerding out on you…as I said, absolutely bored at work…well, I was, now it’s time to go. Can you believe my company just paid me for this shit? Life is good 🙂


*slow claps Blaine out of room* 😉

Scott K

Hope your boss isn’t a subscriber.

Blaine Huff

Yeah, but how would he ever know it was me?

Doh! Delete! Delete!!!!!! 🙂


Could you link to those studies? The ones I have seen indicate it is much longer. The majority of pitchers who have their first TJS when they are already in pro ball never have a second one.


I got the one I cited from Andrew but can’t find the link; Blaine has some great info below, though, so let’s just use his!

Blaine Huff

That may very well be true about TJS, but not all innings are created equally. The data comparing relievers to starters would be very interesting to see.

As well, while it may increase the risk, it’s not a guarantee and there are ways to mitigate the risks.

As far as aging, not so much.

But I think we’re on the same side of the fence…this is a high-risk situation the Pirates now may have an increased reason to consider.

However, yeah, if this thing goes past three seasons and at the guessed cost…it may not make a difference. Instead, it’ll be time to pluck another catcher from the Yankees.

Luke S

On a 3 year deal, you’d at least have the “hope” that even if he hits a bit of a wall after the 2nd year, he can suffice as a backup in his final year to a young guy taking over.

Now if he hit that wall earlier in the deal its a stinker, but that’d be any deal if it goes bad in the first year. If they are confident he has even 2 more good years in him, that 3rd year wouldnt have to be great to at least make them not queasy at it overall.

Thats not a typical PGH move, but with the cheapness of the rotation the next year or so and a cost controlled OF corners, its a time they can step outside the comfort zone.

Mallorie D

If the Pirates had a catching prospect like the Cubs do with Wilson Contreras and/or Schwarber, I’d feel comfortable letting go of Cervelli at the end of the year, but they have Diaz and McGuire instead. I think both could end up being very solid defensive catchers, but I question whether their bats will be good enough.


Schwarber,s lack of defensive ability likely locks him into the outfield. In a few years, it’s likely no one will even remember that he once was a catcher.

Mallorie D

I know they like to say that they dont have a window to contend but until they can show that they have a player who can fill the void after McCutchen leaves, then there may be a window. Probably not a window to be competitive. I think they have that for the forseeable future, but having a legitimate chance to win the WS doesnt happen without a player of McCutchen’s caliber. Here’s hoping either somebody like Polanco or maybe Josh Bell becomes as good as McCutchen, but we dont know yet.

My point is that they have a chance to win right now, having Cervelli on the team for the next 3 years makes me like their chances better. He may not be able to duplicate his performance annually, but I like his intangibles. Goes beyond any sabermetrics or whatever, I just think his temperament is a good fit for this team. They dont have a ton of vocal leaders, he appears to be one of them. They rarely overpay players, this may be a time where it is appropiate to do so, given the uncertainity they have with their catching prospects.

Also, keep in mind. Its not by accident that at the same time when this team finally turned it around was coincidentally the same time they have had consistency beyond home plate. They have a had a legitimate bat behind the plate for the last 4 years now. Both Russell and Cervelli have had similar approaches hitting, theyre patient and they have solid OBP.


I couldn’t agree more regarding the “window”; I think folks either overthink this one, or have a bit of grass-is-always-greener syndrome. Simply put, this is a good team, and it currently has the best player to wear a Pirate jersey since Bonds. It will not be easier to win without him than it is with him.


I preferred Giles myself, but Cutch is pretty good as well 🙂 back to back years with WAR well over 6 and a 4 year run of 23.6 puts him right up there with Cutch’s last 4 years


We’re just gonna let the elephant in the room sit there? Giles?!


Yeah….Giles. I just gave you the 4 year WAR- is there something else I should be referencing that shows he sucked somehow with the Pirates?


No, but a picture of his offseason training regimen should be included:


He never got busted or implicated that I can recall.


I think of the Nationals “saving” Strasburg for the future a few years ago. They haven’t benefited from that…maybe this year but it’s tough to not use all your best weapons when you have a shot. If the Pirates did not have Jaso it would make no sense to save Bell from super two status when he could be up filling a void. Although they have SRod out of his mind too right now. Quit ruining my examples Serpico!!!


SRod is the reason I watch baseball. OK maybe not, but I hope he hits a billion homeruns.

Mallorie D

I’m really excited about Bell…more than any prospect honestly. He could be the “next guy.” But until he shows it on the field in the majors, their window to win a world series is contingent to McCutchen’s time here.


If there is a “next guy”, I think Polanco or Meadows are it.

For me, Bell could very well be a great hitter but he’ll never touch McCutchen’s overall value. Simply won’t be able to add much, if anything, in the field and on the bases.


Cutch doesn’t add anything in the field either…..and its been awhile since he added much (maybe still a little) on the bases. Not trolling, just keeping it real


Sure he does, he’s a CF. Relative to a 1B, his value in the field is worth 15 runs before an out is played.


sorry…..disagree. a bad center fielder is not more valuable than a good first baseman. You can argue if you want, but i’m not playing that game. Say whatever you want


Elephant Balls.


you can piss and moan all you want NMR, I’m not giving this to you. It’s fundamentally ridiculous. He doesn’t add any defensive value when his Dwar is below zero


Again, *relative to a similarly-skilled first basemen*, yes he most certainly does. This is a comparison, not an absolute.


Thats awful hard to conceptualize NMR- When you say that he adds value defensively- to me that means versus his peers, not versus a completely different position. He does not add value defensively versus the other options we have to play his position, so to me- he does not add value defensively.

Luke S

If memory serves, the rumor was the team did reach out about extension talks once the Diaz issue popped up the first time.


Luke…I’ve never heard that. Do you have a link?

Mallorie D

Nutting better be ready to cough up the bucks, sign Cervelli to an extension now. 3/39, do it!

Pete Cepulis

MLBTR is expecting 4/60 for Cervelli and says he has improved his free agent stock greatly. I can’t see the Bucs being the team that signs him for that.

Scott K

Nor should they be.


It’s not TJ surgery fellas! RELAX! It just turned to May. If he’s back by June/July then Diaz is good to go.


I think the Pirates don’t want to sign Cervelli long term, he’s going to want at least 3 and maybe 4 years. That’s too much of a risk at his age, position and injury history.
To me, what the Diaz injury means is Cervelli is more likely to get a Qualifying Offer on the slight chance that he takes it. That way they’d have him for a year, have no long term investment in him and hopefully one of Diaz/McGuire/Jin-De Jhang are healthy/ready by 2018 to be the starter…
Of course this is dependent on severity of whatever it is they’re doing to his elbow. If it’s not TJ, what is it and what’s the timeline?


Qualifying offer is the smart move. Or maybe 3-$39.


3 for 39 million is a great deal and Cervelli is all about it. If he says healthy, then awesome but I don’t think Pirates want to take that chance unless Diaz has another setback after this one. Let’s see!

Mallorie D

I think those are numbers both sides could like. 3 years isnt too much time. I dont have faith in any of their options they have coming up honestly. McGuire is highly touted but hasnt shown that his bat is very good yet. Diaz may never work out. Stick with somebody who has some proven ability and is a great clubhouse guy while this team is contending. To me, its a no brainer.


Yeah, I’m definitely in the sign Cervelli court right now.



Spend some dollars, Bob.


QO perhaps, too old for a multi year deal as a injury prone catcher.


All we need is 1 year, QO is correct, if he leaves fine we sign a rental to platoon with stew and spend the money on another position

Blaine Huff


joe s

this is a setback. I wanted to see him behind the plate for the bucs next year. Get a draft choice for Cervelli.

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