TODAY: Manny Machado told reporters on Monday (including Annie Heilbrunn of the San Diego Union-Tribune) that elbow surgery is now the likely course of action. While he did not say exactly when he plans to have the procedure, he did suggest it could be before the end of the season. It’s highly possible the six-time All-Star is waiting until the Padres are mathematically eliminated from postseason contention to make a final decision. Regardless of when (or if) he eventually undergoes surgery, the third baseman hopes he’ll be back on the field for spring training next year.
SEPTEMBER 9: The Padres remain on the outer fringes of the NL wild card race, as San Diego is seven games behind the Diamondbacks for the final wild card berth, and the Marlins, Reds, and Giants are all sandwiched between Arizona and San Diego in the standings. Barring a miraculous September surge, it looks like it’s just a matter of time before the Padres are eliminated from the playoff race, which could also bring an early end to Manny Machado’s season.
According to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune, it is possible Machado might be shut down due to recurring elbow problems, specifically the type of inflammation best known as “tennis elbow.” This is the second straight season that Machado has dealt with the injury, and he could opt for an offseason surgery that shouldn’t impact his readiness for the start of Spring Training.
While tennis elbow doesn’t usually require surgery, it might be necessary to finally solve an injury that has been bothering the third baseman for the better part of two years. “The effects recently are more frequent and severe,” Acee writes, noting that Machado has been limited to DH-only duty over his last seven games. Even in a hitting-only role, Acee hears that “there are certain swings that cause [Machado] a great deal of pain.”
The injury hasn’t resulted in any time on the injured list for Machado, though he did miss a couple of weeks earlier in the season due to a minor hand fracture. However, the lingering elbow problem could explain Machado’s relatively disappointing season, as he has hit .253/.317/.453 with 26 homers over 545 plate appearances. While still a 112 wRC+, it’s well below Machado’s standards, particularly in comparison to the 153 wRC+ he posted in 2022 while finishing second in NL MVP voting.
Machado’s performance has been one of many factors in a very disappointing season for the Padres, who are 67-75 despite one of the game’s highest payrolls and a +73 run differential. With a playoff berth looking like a longshot at best, there wouldn’t be much of a cost for the Padres in shutting down Machado and getting his rehab (whether involving a surgery or not) underway as quickly as possible to get a jump start on 2024.