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On Friday night, the San Diego Padres announced that they had non-tendered six players. Among those six was starter Tyson Ross. It was a move that shocked a lot of people around baseball, and many wondered what that meant for the right-hander who missed almost all of the 2016 season and is currently recovering from surgery on his pitching shoulder.
Ross, who was drafted by the Oakland A's in the second round of the amateur draft in 2008, made 53 appearances for Oakland in his first three seasons. Over that time, he struggled immensely, with a 5.33 ERA, 4.42 xFIP and 5.40 DRA. He was traded to the Padres in November 16, 2012.
In 2014 Ross had his best year as a starter. He made 31 starts, threw 195 2/3 innings and finished with a 2.81 ERA, a 3.11 xFIP and a 3.08 DRA. He also struck out 195 batters while walking 72. He was named to the All-Star squad that year as well.
2015 was a little more up-and-down for Ross, who finished the year with a league high in walks (84) and wild pitches (14) but also struck out a career high 212 batters. He earned a 3.26 ERA, 3.15 xFIP and 3.04 DRA. He pitched 196 innings in 2015 and started a career high 33 games.
Ross only pitched one game in 2016 — Opening Day against the Los Angeles Dodgers — and it was an unmitigated disaster for the righty. He pitched 5 1/3 innings (94 pitches) and gave up eight runs on nine hits. He hit two batters,but only walked one and struck out seven. The Dodgers went on to win the game 15-0. Ross was placed on the disabled list less than a week later with shoulder inflammation, and he didn't throw another pitch for the Padres the rest of the season. He made one rehab start in High Single-A Lake Elsinore on August 25 and experienced more shoulder discomfort.
Ross was finally diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, the same affliction that ended both Phil Hughes and Matt Harvey's seasons. He underwent surgery on October 13. The recovery time is usually four to six months, which means Tyson could be ready for Opening Day.
Why a team would take a chance on Ross
Ross is a good pitcher when he's on, and he has four pitches in his repertoire. He throws a four-seam fastball, a slider, a changeup and a cutter. He tried using a split finger fastball back in the early part of the 2013 season, but he removed it from his arsenal. Before he injured his shoulder, Ross's velocity was between 87-95. He could reach 94-95 on his four-seam, his sinker hovered around 93-94, his changeup — when it was used — could hit as high as 90, and his slider stayed around 87. Toward the end of the 2015 season, his numbers dropped a bit, but he also threw a career high in innings which could have played a role in the velocity dip. It wasn't enough to be alarming, just enough to be noticed.
Why the Padres cut him loose
It's possible that the Padres cut Ross loose only to sign him again for cheaper — especially with his injury history and the fact that he's still recovering from surgery. He earned $9.6 million in 2016 and spent the year on the disabled list. This year would have been his final offseason of arbitration eligibility.
His overall outlook
At this time last year, Tyson Ross was a highly coveted pitcher, but the Padres stood pat all winter and didn't trade him. Then the injury happened and they had to cut him. Ross's overall outlook all depends on how well his rehab and subsequent recovery go. Shoulders are tricky, but he didn't have a torn labrum or rotator cuff surgery, which are harder to come back from. If his recovery from TOS surgery goes well and he is able to pitch again at a high level, he could be a very good weapon for a team that needs a righty starter. If it doesn't go well, someone may be paying for a pitcher who will be struggling with injuries.