2024 Spring Training Injury Roundup

Answering injury questions and highlighting who is safe to draft

Injuries might be an unfortunate constant in fantasy baseball, but 2023 felt especially hard-hit. Many top names went down with significant injuries requiring months of rehab before they’re back on the field. Here’s a review of over two dozen players with injury flags as we approach Spring Training. Each is rated from 1 to 5 ‘Walking Boots’ — 1 meaning you can draft confidently and 5 being a very loud warning siren.


American League


Alex Kirilloff

Kirilloff got some good news after his offseason shoulder surgery, which was expected to find a torn labrum. But no tear could be found, so it became a less invasive procedure than expected and he should be fully recovered by Opening Day — he could even be 100% ahead of Spring Training.

Kirilloff likely ends up in a platoon to open the year — not ideal, but it could help his durability. There’s potential for 35-40 home runs in Kirilloff’s bat if he can play every day, but given that he’s averaged 64 games a season in his three-year career the chances for that may be slim. Still, Kirilloff could be a great late-round flyer.

Rating: 2 Walking Boots


Anthony Rendon

Rendon’s been making news off the field after complaining to an interviewer about the length of the 162-game season. Considering he’s averaged less than 50 of those games since 2020, it’s hard to understand where this is coming from.

The last few years have included ailments to his wrist, hip, hamstring, and groin, and in 2023 he struggled to a .318 SLG in 183 plate appearances, with more IL trips (3) than home runs (2). He last saw action on July 4th, where what was originally thought to be a shin contusion turned out to be a fracture in his tibia. The Angels activated Rendon off the IL on November 3rd, but there is no reason to believe he’ll be able to stay on the field consistently.

Rating: 5 Walking Boots


Byron Buxton

The Twins have high hopes for Buxton this season, projecting him to be their starting center fielder. That’s a surprising development considering he only served as the team’s DH in 2023, but an October knee procedure has supposedly improved his mobility. That would be great news for Buxton, whose injury history is as storied as Rendon’s.

Buxton is always on the verge of superstardom if he can stay healthy, but his .103 batting average against offspeed pitches last season points to some concerns beyond health. It would be great for baseball if Buxton could again reach his potential, but playing in the field can only heighten his risk — and patella tendinitis has a history of recurring.

Rating: 4 Walking Boots


Corey Seager

It was announced on January 30th that Seager had surgery to repair a sports hernia, stemming from an issue that started bothering him during the Rangers’ championship run. The initial treatment plan was just some R&R, but things lingered long enough to warrant the procedure.

Typically these types of recoveries are in the 6-8 week range, but while Texas GM Chris Young said his level of concern was ‘very low’, historically some players (Randal Grichuk last year being one of them) have taken closer to 10 weeks to get back on the field. Don’t be surprised if Seager misses a week or two to open the season, but should be back to his MVP-level self before long.

Seager averages an IL stint or two each year, so hopefully this is the only one — but don’t count on it. Still, no one hits the ball harder when on the field, so if he falls to the third round in drafts consider him a prime buying opportunity.

Rating: 2 Walking Boots, with upside


Jacob deGrom

According to Shawn McFarland of the Dallas Morning News, deGrom has yet to resume throwing after his second Tommy John procedure last June — only saying that he’ll begin sometime in the Spring. The Rangers’ ace was his typical dominant self in six starts last year, with the Rangers winning all six games, but a strained elbow turned out to be something more and he had to go under the knife.

DeGrom stated a few days ago that he feels good, has started doing plyometric conditioning, and is aiming to be ready around the trade deadline. Unfortunately, that means baseball’s best hurler will be until the end of July at the earliest and any setbacks could sideline him further. At this point, don’t count on anything more than an August or September return, as deGrom’s focus will be helping his team in the playoffs while also readying himself for a full season next year.

Rating: 5 Walking Boots


Jarren Duran

Duran was enjoying a breakout in 2023 with a .295 average and 24 steals in 102 games before a toe injury ended his season in August. He had surgery to fix the flexor tendon a week later and was moved to the 60-day IL.

On January 16th it was reported that Duran was cleared for Spring Training and should have no limitations. But the digit in question was the left big toe — which base stealers push off from to run — so keep an eye out in Spring Training on whether Boston’s leadoff hitter attempts any swipes.

Rating: 1 Walking Boot


Jasson Domínguez

The legend of Domínguez had hardly been put to paper when a UCL injury forced him to have Tommy John on his right elbow last September.

The switch-hitter was the talk of the Bronx in his eight-game stint with the Yankees last year, mashing four home runs and flashing all the tools of a superstar. Domínguez will try to emulate a return to action along the Bryce Harper timetable, though it took Harper a couple of months on the field to really get going.

A bigger question will be where Domínguez can find playing time in an outfield that now includes Aaron Judge, Juan Soto, and Alex Verdugo, with Giancarlo Stanton at permanent DH — though by July a spot might be open.

Rating: 5 Walking Boots


John Means

Returning to the Orioles in September after Tommy John surgery, Means made four starts in 2023 and acquitted himself admirably with a 2.66 ERA and 0.72 WHIP. He appeared to have lost a tick or two in velocity and only struck out 10 batters in 23.2 IP, so his xERA was considerably higher at 4.58.

Usually good for a stint on the IL during his best years, Steamer is projecting Means for 144 IP this season — which might be on the high side.

Rating: 3 Walking Boots


Max Scherzer

Lingering shoulder issues ended Scherzer’s regular season earlier than expected, and then a back issue ended his postseason. At age 39, Scherzer is showing the wear of throwing almost 3,000 innings in the majors, but he still managed to eclipse 150 IP in 2023.

He won’t be repeating that feat, however, as a December back surgery to repair a herniated disc should sideline him until at least June. Scherzer remains optimistic and will begin working out in February, but as with deGrom watch closely for any setbacks in the recovery. Back issues are notoriously difficult to shake for a pitcher, which could mean a debut after the All-Star Break is more likely.

Scherzer had a 0.96 WHIP and 53 Ks in 45 IP with the Rangers last year, so the stuff does still play.

Rating: 4 Walking Boots


Riley Greene

The impressive young Tigers centre fielder needed the rare Tommy John surgery on his non-throwing arm, the result of a torn tendon while diving for a catch. There’s not a lot of history on TJS recuperation of this sort, but Greene is slated to be ready for Opening Day.

Lefty hitters will need to extend their right elbow through the zone to be effective, so watch in Spring Training whether he’s hitting for power when pulling the ball. If he’s able to match his 91.6 mph average exit velocity and 11.3% barrel rate from last year, Statcast metrics point to a breakout.

Rating: 2 Walking Boots


Shane Baz

Baz underwent Tommy John in September of 2022 and should be good to go by Spring Training after 18 months of recuperation. It was the second elbow procedure of the 24-year-old’s young career, but typically a TJS will strengthen the ligament in the short term. Baz was throwing bullpens as far back as September 9th without issue, though he might have to revisit his pitch mix as he’s historically thrown a slider 37% of the time.

As Tampa’s rotation will go without Shane McClanahan and Jeffrey Springs as they recover from their own elbow surgeries, Baz has a spot on a strong Tampa team and will be a trendy sleeper pick.

Rating: 2 Walking Boots


Vinnie Pasquantino

After hitting .295 in 72 games in 2022, Vinnie P landed on a lot of breakout lists going into last year. But a torn labrum in his right shoulder ended his season after only 61 games in 2023. His batting average dipped to .247 that season but that’s including a .043 average over several games in June, where he was certainly ‘not right’ before the Royals pulled the plug.

Looking at his xBA reveals only an 11-point difference between the last two seasons and most of his Statcast metrics show little change between ’22 and ’23. Pasquantino has shared videos of himself taking BP since November, so he should be good to go and a nearly 1:1 strikeout to walk rate should follow. Buy the dip while you can.

Rating: 1 Walking Boot


National League


Edwin Diaz

Diaz had an unfortunate freak injury after celebrating Puerto Rico’s team win in the World Baseball Classic last March, tearing the patellar tendon in his knee and missing the entire 2023 season. He is billed as fully healthy.

The Mets may not have much to celebrate in a division that contains both the Phillies and Braves, so that may be good for Diaz’s longevity. According to the Mets’ new manager Carlos Mendoza, “He can’t wait to get going.”

Worth noting, this was Diaz’s first appearance on the Injured List in his 400-inning career. Hopefully, Timmy Trumpet is just as ready.

Rating: 1 Walking Boot


Frankie Montas

Montas underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery in February of 2023 and was originally expected to be out for around three months. But a few setbacks once he started throwing kept delaying his timeline, and he ended up making only a couple of token relief appearances at the end of a lost Yankees season.

Looking sharp enough to earn a one-year, $16 million deal with the Reds, Montas will hope to anchor and mentor a young rotation. Various projection systems have Montas going between 70 and 140 IP this season, but Great American Ball Park can be unforgiving. 100-120 IP seems more likely, but Montas should be healthy out of the gate and can hopefully be back to his old self.

Rating: 3 Walking Boots


Gavin Lux

Another player hoping to find his groove again after missing the entire 2023 season, Lux should be 100% ready for Spring Training according to Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. Lux had torn both his ACL and LCL last year during Spring Training.

Notably, the Dodgers had been rumored to be in the market for Brewers shortstop Willy Adames, but that has quieted down and Lux figures to be their starting shortstop. The Dodgers are a deep team, of course, so it’s likely the Lux gets spelled at least once a week by either of the two Miguels, Miguel Rojas or Miguel Vargas. When he does play he’ll likely bat in the 8- or 9-hole, but if he can improve on his career .329 OBP he could score lots of runs thanks to the monsters at the top of the order.

Rating: 2 Walking Boots


Jazz Chisholm Jr.

Chisholm managed almost 400 plate appearances in 2023 but struggled with turf toe throughout the season. He had surgery to fix the toe in early October and the expected recovery included no running for at least three months.

The expectation is he’ll be 100% healthy going into 2024, but note that in his age 26 season, he has topped 500 PAs only once. Even in a down year, though, Jazz can amass a ton of homers and steals, so if he can play 140+ games he could reach 30-30. But that’s a fairly big if.

Rating: 2 Walking Boots


Joe Musgrove

The Padres got some good news on Feb 2nd when learning that both Yu Darvish and Musgrove will report to Spring Training ‘with no limitations’. Musgrove got off to a late start in 2023 thanks to a fractured toe that February and lingering shoulder issues limited him during what became a snake-bit season for the whole team. He was last seen on a mound in early August before the shoulder finally gave out, and though he may have been able to go had the Friars made the playoffs, he was shut down for good in mid-September.

With Blake Snell out and little depth in the San Diego rotation, the Padres will need to lean on Musgrove heavily to combat a loaded NL West. Throwing more than 180 innings in both 2021 and 2022 — with just 97.1 last year — Musgrove has shown longevity in years past and can hopefully repeat that in his age-31 season.

Worth noting, Musgrove reduced his slider usage from 24.6% to 14.5% last year, offsetting it with an increase in changeups and cutters. He might want to work on the cutter though as hitters teed off on it with a .302 BA compared to just .229 the year before.

Rating: 2 Walking Boots


Lance McCullers Jr.

McCullers had surgery in June 2023 to remove some bone spurs in his forearm, along with a repair to his flexor tendon. After multiple setbacks and opting for surgery, he ended up missing the season completely. Last November, the Astros GM stated that McCullers could be back in early July, nearly 20 months after he last appeared in the 2022 World Series.

McCullers has thrown more than 130 innings in a season only once, in 2021, but has a career 3.48 ERA and a K/9 of more than 10. If his recovery goes well and he’s back to his old form, McCullers could be a sneaky midseason stash, just don’t count on it to last very long.

Rating: 4 Walking Boots


Manny Machado

Another player who appeared to play hurt through much of 2023, Machado was pushed to DH last September due to tennis elbow and opted for extensor tendon repair surgery in his elbow as soon as the regular season ended.

The Padres had one of the most disappointing seasons in recent memory last season, but without Juan Soto in the lineup, Machado figures to be the anchor. Recovery time for the type of procedure he had is usually pegged at 4-6 months, which may or may not have him fully ready to go for Spring Training.

Padres manager Mike Shildt recently stated that Machado’s recovery has ‘progressed quickly’ and he apparently started hitting and playing catch a few weeks ago, but he will likely take it easy in March and DH again to open the season. An IL stint is possible but unlikely, and if fully healthy Machado could easily outplay his ADP, returning second- or third-round value at around the 50th pick.

Rating: 2 Walking Boots, with upside


Oneil Cruz

Cruz broke a lot of hearts last year when he fractured his fibula after a hard slide into home plate during only the ninth game of the 2023 season. He had surgery two days later and the initial prognosis was a 3-4 month recovery, but his rehab program ‘plateaued’ after he felt continued soreness while running. The setbacks were deemed minor and Pirates had little to play for in September, so it’s probably for the best that he continued to rest and rehab in the long run.

The Pirates’ manager Derek Shelton deemed Cruz healthy in January and stated that he’d be the team’s starting shortstop, so it appears mobility isn’t an issue at this point. After 11 months away from the diamond, Cruz should be good to go, but given how hard he plays and throws his body around, longevity might not be his forte.

Rating: 2 Walking Boots


Rhys Hoskins

Another victim of a torn ligament, Hoskins missed all of 2023 after an ACL injury during Spring Training. Now with the Brewers after signing a two-year, $34 million deal — with extension options — Hoskins has said he feels ‘little to no limitations’ with the knee.

Hoskins figures to get regular playing time and bat in the middle of a rebuilding Brewers lineup, and though it will probably take him a month or two to get going, he could be a sneaky under-the-radar play as he’s currently going around pick 200 in most rankings. Hoskins has played in more than 150 games three times in his career, and though he’ll turn 31 in March, he should be rested and primed for a bounce-back.

Rating: 1 Walking Boot


Robbie Ray

Ray lasted barely three innings in his first and only start with the Mariners in 2023. After trying to rehab his elbow and experiencing setbacks, he opted for Tommy John two months later. His timetable to return was originally pegged at the ’12 to 15-month range’, which seems a little optimistic for pitchers coming back from TJS (18 months is usually the timetable). A return around the All-Star Break is probably the best-case scenario here, and though Mariners’ President Jerry Dipoto has stated that Ray ‘has checked all the boxes’ in his rehab so far, even a slight setback could turn his season into a wash.

The Mariners are hoping to contend with an already stellar rotation so it remains to be seen how much his services will be needed around the trade deadline, especially since command will be an issue and that’s not exactly what Ray’s been known for. Still, he’s worth looking up in June or July if you need strikeouts, given he’s topped 200 whiffs five different times and has an 11.0 K/9 for his career.

Rating: 5 Walking Boots in the first half, TBD in the second


Ronny Mauricio

A top prospect for the Mets called up in late 2023, Mauricio flashed some true talent in his 108 plate appearances with seven steals, two home runs, and 99th-percentile 117.3 max exit velocity. Sadly, he tore his ACL playing Winter Ball.

The original prognostication after surgery was 8-12 months, so there’s a slim chance Mauricio gets a late-season stint in the Majors again this year, but don’t expect more than a handful of games around September, and 2025 is far more likely.

Rating: 5 Walking Boots


Sandy Alcantara

Sadly, the 2022 NL Cy Young winner will miss all of 2024 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in early October.

He should be ready for the 2025 season after almost 18 months away and was already moving well while signing autographs during a Marlins fan event last week.

Rating: 5 Walking Boots


Shohei Ohtani

The prize pickup of the offseason, Ohtani will only hit this year — likely behind Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman in a loaded Dodgers lineup.

The exact nature of Ohtani’s September surgery is still somewhat cloudy, as it was made clear that it wasn’t Tommy John but still a torn ligament repair that will keep him from pitching until 2025. Most likely, and something fairly common for players undergoing a second elbow procedure, a brace was installed to reinforce the ligament.

Ohtani managed a 1.066 OPS with 44 home runs in 135 games with the Angels last year — and the metrics back up his insane production given his 94.4 mph average exit velocity and 19.6% barrel rate. Ohtani’s future as a pitcher is less certain but he should be fine as a primary DH in 2024 and might eventually see some reps in the outfield.

Still, keep an eye on his Statcast metrics during Spring Training to make sure the bat speed is there.

Rating: 1 Walking Boot as a hitter, 5 as a pitcher


Tommy Edman

After somewhat of an off year, Edman opted for arthroscopic wrist surgery in October. It had been an issue all season and pushed Edman to the IL for three weeks in July. Details of his recovery have been somewhat murky but the Cardinals’ Swiss Army Knife is still not throwing or swinging a bat at 100%.

Edman would likely start in centrefield with Masyn Winn taking the reps at shortstop — and of course, could fit into other positions as well — but it’s possible his Spring Training gets delayed after only four months of recovery time from a major procedure. Edman did sign a two-year deal with the Cardinals on January 22nd to avoid arbitration, so the Cardinals must have some confidence.

Edman’s fantasy success will largely come from where he bats in the lineup, so hopefully, St. Louis gives him another shot to lead off after managing only a .277 OBP from the top spot last year. It probably won’t happen right away.

Rating: 3 Walking Boots


Walker Buehler

The Dodgers made the perhaps unsurprising announcement that Buehler’s season might be delayed as the team slow-walks him into shape.

It appears he’ll be under scrutiny after his second Tommy John, with manager Dave Roberts focusing on keeping him available in the postseason. Still, Buehler should be available for evaluation as he gets some innings in during Spring Training, but could be sidelined for a few weeks out of the gate to keep his innings count low.

Considering he only threw 65 innings in 2022 and zero in the majors last year (though we were hoping for at least an appearance or two), it’s hard to expect he throws more than 120 in 2024, which is just one of the reasons why he landed on this year’s bust list (a vanishing K rate being another).

Rating: 4 Walking Boots


Photos courtesy of Icon Sportswire & Unsplash. Adapted by Kurt Wasemiller (@kurtwasemiller on Twitter / @kurt_player02 on Instagram)

Scott McDermott

Scott lives in Virginia Beach with his wife, two daughters, and a couple of furballs. When he’s not dissecting box scores and pondering over the optimal starting lineup for the Cincinnati Reds, he covers fantasy baseball for Pitcher List. He’s also the author of the award-winning book series 'Election 2064', available on Amazon.

2 responses to “2024 Spring Training Injury Roundup”

  1. Aaron Asbury says:

    Thanks for the article, Scott, super useful heading into draft season.

  2. Scott Van Bourgondien says:

    Thanks for the update on these injured players.
    Great to know who to fade on my rankings 😆

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