The Alexander Canario decision just got much more complicated.
The top outfield prospect, ranked No. 7 in the system by MLB Pipeline, is no longer a surefire bet to be protected before the Rule 5 draft after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum.
The 20-year-old from the Dominican Republic dislocated his shoulder while playing the field during the last week of Instructional League, which ended Nov. 7. Further evaluation showed the torn left labrum, the Giants announced Saturday, and he had successful surgery. He will return to Arizona for rehab.
This is a devastating blow to Canario, an exciting prospect signed in 2016 who just missed the entire 2020 campaign because of the pandemic and likely will miss months of the 2021 season, too. Torn labrums are especially difficult injuries for baseball players to recover from, more so than elbow ailments. While they are more serious in pitchers and the injury is to Canario’s non-throwing shoulder, he needs both shoulders to swing properly and will face a long road back.
The question becomes whether that road will be hosted by the Giants. Friday is the deadline for clubs to update rosters ahead of the Dec. 10 Rule 5 draft, in which eligible prospects not placed on 40-man rosters can be plucked. Canario, regarded for having raw power and tremendous bat speed, was a prime candidate to be added, along with pitchers Tyler Cyr, Camilo Doval and Gregory Santos.
Would another team — especially one without much hope of contending in 2021 — reserve a roster spot next year for a high-upside young outfielder rehabbing? The drafting team could not place him on the IL for the entire year to gain control, but must hold him for 90 days on the active list to ensure he does not have to be returned to the Giants. It is hard to envision that happening, but would the Giants take a chance?
They’ll have plenty of 40-man decisions ahead with a roster that sits at 39 but will need trimming. Rather than going to arbitration, the Giants could decide against tendering contracts to Tyler Anderson, Trevor Gott, Daniel Robertson and Darin Ruf. Fringe roster members such as Melvin Adon, Steven Duggar, Jordan Humphreys and Chris Shaw also could be shaken off.
Canario is still viewed as a ways away, having only reached short-season Salem-Keizer in 2019, but prized enough that he became a late addition to the Giants’ pool roster this season, getting some experience in Sacramento. In 49 games with Salem-Keizer, he slashed .301/.365/.539 with nine home runs and a walk-strikeout ratio the Giants would like to improve (18:71).
Odds are his next game, whenever it comes, will come with the Giants. But the odds became tighter when surgery was needed.