The Philadelphia Phillies have announced that a pitcher received in their big trade with Texas last year will miss the entire 2016 season.
In dealing Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman to the Texas Rangers at the 2015 trade deadline, the Phillies received a package of major prospects that included pitchers Jake Thompson, Jerad Eickhoff, and Alec Asher, outfielder Nick Williams, and catcher Jorge Alfaro.
Also received in that package was veteran left-handed starting pitcher named Matt Harrison.
The Phillies have now announced that Harrison has been excused from spring training, and will miss the entire 2016 season.
In fact, it has to be presumed that his career is now in jeopardy. Because of various back ailments, the now 30-year old Harrison has appeared in just nine games over the last three seasons.
During spring training of last season while still with Texas, Harrison addressed his concerns that his back troubles might be bringing his career to an early end. As quoted by T.R. Sullivan for MLB.com:
“It would definitely be hard to do without giving it another shot. The more I learn and the more I understand the rehab, I feel good about the possibility of getting back to a five-day rehab.“
In May of 2014, Harrison had lumbar spinal disc fusion surgery. If that sounds scary, it’s because it can indeed be frightening.
The southpaw had already missed most of the 2013 season with surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back. Two back surgeries in two years for a professional athlete is difficult to overcome.
As quoted at Bleacher Report in a feature by Matt Fitzgerald at the time of his 2014 surgery, Harrison described what he was experiencing:
“Lower back more on the left side than the right on the left. It was affecting me driving through the baseball,” said Harrison. “It felt like all arm. I don’t really know why it happened what caused it or what I did wrong. Hopefully, I get good news and go from there.“
In 2012, Harrison was an American League all-star, and he finished 8th in the AL Cy Young Award voting that season. He went 18-11 over 32 starts, allowing 210 hits in 213.1 innings.
This followed up a 2011 campaign in which he had gone 14-9 over 30 starts in his first full season in the Rangers’ rotation.
Just age 26 at the time, it appeared that his career was taking off. But the back injuries have completely sent his career careening off the rails.
Harrison is owed $13.2 million in both this season and next, and has a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season.
It is now appearing more and more likely that the Phillies will get nothing from him for that salary.