Cost analysis of Tommy John surgery for Major League Baseball teams.
Meldau JE, Srivastava K, Okoroha KR, Ahmad CS, Moutzouros V, and Makhni EC. Cost analysis of Tommy John surgery for Major League Baseball teams. J Shoulder Elbow Surg 2020; 29(1):121-125.
Journal of shoulder and elbow surgery
BACKGROUND: The economic loss following ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction (UCLR) in Major League Baseball (MLB) pitchers has not been evaluated. The purpose of this study is to quantify the financial impact of UCLR on MLB teams. We hypothesize that MLB teams incur significant losses annually as a result of salaries paid to injured players following reconstruction.
METHODS: Public records were accessed to identify MLB pitchers from January 1, 2004, to December 31, 2014, who had undergone UCLR. Contract terms and time away from competition were used to approximate economic loss. Successful return was considered when a pitcher returned to play in at least 1 Minor League Baseball (MiLB) or MLB game.
RESULTS: One hundred ninety-four MLB pitchers underwent UCLR from 2004 to 2014, missing on average 180.2 days of the MLB regular season. Cost of recovery (COR) amounted to $395 million, averaging $1.9 million per player. Starting pitchers accounted for the largest total COR at $239.6 million, whereas closers had the largest economic loss per player ($3.9 million/player). Only 77% of pitchers returned to MLB play.
CONCLUSION: UCLR has a substantial economic impact on MLB teams. Starting pitchers represented a majority of team cost, but closers represented higher costs per pitcher.