After thoracic outlet syndrome surgery kept Trevor Rosenthal from pitching in 2021, it looks like the 2022 season will also be a total write-off for the veteran reliever. Brewers manager Craig Counsell told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Curt Hogg (Twitter links) and other reporters that Rosenthal will “probably” miss the rest of the season due to a lat injury in a recent Triple-A rehab outing. Counsell compared Rosenthal’s injury to the posterior shoulder issue that kept Freddy Peralta out of action for almost two and a half months of the 2022 campaign.
Rosenthal wasn’t signed during the 2021-22 offseason, but a midseason throwing showcase led to a guaranteed contract with the Giants worth a prorated $4.5MM. At the time of the signing, Rosenthal was recovering from a hamstring strain, and was still sidelined when the Brewers landed Rosenthal (and his contract) at the trade deadline in a swap with San Francisco. While Rosenthal was making good progress in working his way back in rehab, Brewers president of baseball ops David Stearns said that the lat problem is “a completely new injury” that only just surfaced.
“He’s been working exceptionally hard to get back here. He was close, the ball was coming out really good, and now we have a setback,” Stearns said.
The trade with the Giants now looks like a backfired risk for the Brewers, and yet another strange detail in what has been a bizarre five-year stretch for Rosenthal. Tommy John surgery kept off the mound for the entire 2018 season, and he pitched only 15 1/3 innings in 2019 and then 23 2/3 innings in 2020, appearing for four different teams during that two-season span. While his 2019 numbers were poor, Rosenthal looked quite good in 2020, leading to a one-year, $11MM free agent deal with the Athletics that resulted in Rosenthal never making an actual appearance for the A’s, due to thoracic outlet syndrome.
The $4.5MM deal was already something of a surprising total for a pitcher with Rosenthal’s recent injury track record, notwithstanding his strong career numbers. Since it now looks like he’ll go more than two years without throwing a Major League pitch, the right-hander will probably have to settle for a minor league deal this winter. Some questions might have to be asked about whether or not Rosenthal will continue his career in the face of all these health problems, but he is still only 32 years old.
As for Milwaukee, the team gave up minor league outfield prospect Tristan Peters to the Giants, and the lack of return on Rosenthal will surely bring some fresh criticism of the team’s deadline moves. Between dealing All-Star closer Josh Hader to the Padres for a trade package that included Taylor Rogers, as well as the swap that brought Matt Bush from the Rangers, it was a bullpen-heavy set of transactions that (with almost four weeks of hindsight) looks to have not been enough. Milwaukee has struggled to an 8-14 record in August, falling six games back of the Cardinals in the NL Central race and 2.5 games behind in the wild card race.