Justin Dunn does not need shoulder surgery. That’s the good news for Dunn and the Cincinnati Reds. The bad news is that he is still going to miss several months with the injury, though it’s possible he may still be able to pitch this season. Charlie Goldsmith of the Cincinnati Enquirer was the first to report the news after Dunn met with a specialist in New York. Mark Sheldon of Reds.com is reporting that the issue is inflammation in his subscapularis in his rotator cuff.

This news is just another piece to the puzzle of “what’s happening with Justin Dunn’s shoulder?”. When the Reds acquired Dunn last spring from the Seattle Mariners his shoulder was injured. He went on the injured list in the summer of 2021 and didn’t pitch, outside of one rehab game in Triple-A late in the year that he left early with a shoulder injury. Dunn didn’t get back into another game until June 26th of 2022 when he began a rehab assignment. He returned to the big leagues on August 8th and pitched in seven games before going back on the injured list with a shoulder that was bothering him. He returned to make a Triple-A rehab start on the 27th of September, throwing 3.0 hitless innings for Louisville, but the season ended before he’d get another chance to throw.

This spring, while getting ready for camp, his shoulder didn’t feel right once again and he had to shut things down. He attempted to throw a bullpen session in Goodyear but it didn’t go as planned and that’s how we got to this point we’re at now.

Given the diagnosis that Dunn will miss at least a few months, this likely means that if and when the Reds need a spot opened up on the 40-man roster (because of a signing, or needing to add a player not on the 40-man to the roster who makes the team out of spring training) that Dunn will be transferred to the 60-day injured list and open a spot up.


33 Responses

  1. LDS

    One of the worst trade acquisitions in Reds’ history. He may do something eventually, but given he’s already 27, the prospects being a significant contributor seems to be dimming. Trading for a guy that had known shoulder problems might not have been the greatest move anyway. Hopefully, Connor Phillips works out, or Williamson. Dunn may be done.

    • Votto4life

      It was a bad baseball trade, but it allowed the Reds to slash some payroll which was the whole point.

      We have been hearing all winter, how the Reds can’t possibly have the same problems with injuries in 2023, as they did in 2022. Let’s see how that works out.

      • BK

        Baseball Trade Values shows the combined value of Fraley, Williamson, and Petty at $23M, the combined value of Winker and Suarez is $5M. While I’m not trying to discount the financial motivation, the trade is pretty lopsided in our favor. Dunn was essentially a throw-in.

      • Votto4life

        @BK you are correct! I specifically meant the Dunn part of the deal. The trade can still pan out in the Red’s favor, but I still contend salary relief was the Red’s primary consideration. I based my opinion on the Red’s transactions leading up to and since the Seattle trade.

      • DaveCT

        BK, exactly. We took another team’s problem off it’s hands, in exchange for them doing the same for us.

      • LDS

        People pay far too much attention to sites like Baseball Trade Values, Fangraphs, etc. Executives seldom make decisions on such cut and dried metrics, and that’s assuming there’s anything to the algorithms used on the sites to begin with.

      • BK

        Baseball Trade Values had a 91 percent “acceptance” rate for trades made over the offseason. Their margin for error this offseason was 2.1. Historically, they’ve been more accurate. They have a really good model for evaluating potential trades against what the baseball executives actually execute.

        This trade looked good for the Reds when they made it, and it looks even better today. The valuations cited are well outside of the model’s margin of error.

    • Bdh

      Williamson is in line to make the rotation this year and Phillips (who showed up on at least 1 top 100 list) will either be in the rotation or a high leverage arm in the bullpen as soon as next season.

      On top of that Fraley outplayed Winker last year and is a real 20/20 possibility going forward.

      The reds did fine in that trade. They knew Dunn was hurt when they made the trade but if a slightly above league average pitcher (coming off a 110 ERA+ season) is going to a throw in then sure why not see what you can get from him.

      Acting like he was the centerpiece of the return is a head scratcher

      • Votto4life

        Williamson may make the rotation by default, but he gave up a ton of walks last year. Most organizations would not just give him a spot without proving he has better control.

  2. Mark Moore

    Well nuts … but going on the IL does help with the 40-man as noted. Too bad for Dunn and I hope his recovery and rehab go well.

  3. Optimist

    This is, um, unsurprising, and hardly unexpected. What’s unusual is that he was the most speculative part of a trade arguably headlined by prospects.

    Also intriguing is, again, the opinion of staying with rehab instead of surgery. Certainly good for him, but as noted over at MLB Trade Rumors, move him to the pen if he returns at all this season. Take the 30-50 ip in small doses. 3 more years until free agent status.

  4. Jim Walker

    This is a sad and difficult situation for both the player and the organization. The evolving timeline and known facts seem to indicate the issue is a chronic condition resulting from use that will not be fixed by surgery. Hoping for the best for everyone but not holding my breath for a happy outcome.

  5. old-school

    Article from a few days ago said Conner Phillips at 21 is generating a buzz among hitters facing him live in camp. DJ and Bell both said his stuff is electric and he’s a top pitching prospect in the entire organization. Williamson is in the mix for a starting rotation spot and seems to have bounced back to his 2021 prospect status. Jake Fraley is the reds best LH hitter and had a big second half. He will hit in the middle of the order for the Reds. Those are 3 solid additions.

    Winker is a FA after this season so nothing says the Reds couldn’t bring him back as a lefty bat/ DH if they decided too. Feel bad for Dunn but the Reds got some solid young controlled players, including 2 good pitching prospects who are both healthy and ascending.

    • Jim Walker

      I am wondering at this point if Phillips was the PTBNL because his inclusion in the trade was conditional on Dunn’s situation coming out of spring training and in the early season last year.

      • Optimist

        Jim – I’ve seen this opinion elsewhere, but is it possible? Seems like it is too easy to manipulate by the receiving team, or becomes a battle of Dr. opinions. I could see a “return for refund” option, but is the conditional PTBNL a common thing based on injury or performance status?

      • Doug Gray

        I doubt it. The turn around on the trade to the PTBNL was too quick. There’s no way the Reds entered that deal thinking it was possible Dunn was going to be ready by the end of spring.

    • CI3J

      I’d bring Winker back only if he agreed to play 1B. I always thought he was Votto’s heir apparent at 1B, given his build, left-handedness, and how slow he was in the field. Plus, in his last season in Cincinnati, he put up some very Votto-esque numbers.

      The downside is he’ll be 30 next year, and that’s getting a little long in the tooth. He probably has about 2-4 good seasons left at the most, and that’s assuming he can bounce back from what he did last season.

      • Old-school

        I bring that up only to point out the Reds traded only 2 years of team control on Winker and last year was a poor year from him. Im a big fan of Fraley, but imo, Reds are barren with big time lefty hitters in the pipeline.

        Post Joey Votto, you’ve got Fraley and EDLC. Mcgarry and Benson are intriguing but longer shots. Youve got some lefties in the lower minors but this team is going to need some professional lefty hitters in 2024/25

      • Melvin

        Winker, although not as bad as Senzel, has a long history of injury problems. I think it’s safe to assume they will only get worse as he gets older. Most of his injuries came while just swinging the bat so I don’t think playing 1B would have helped much in that regard. In my view trading him while still valuable and not extending him was the wise thing to do. It’s up for debate of course as to how good the actual trade was for the Reds.

  6. Bdh

    Hope he’s back for the 2nd half of the season to give the team some good innings. If he misses the full season then he becomes an easy non tender candidate IMO.

    Stoudt, Abbott, Phillips, and maybe even Roa could all get their chances sooner than expected. With Weaver and Cessa both hitting free agency after the season you never know if they’ll be here after the deadline. The only competition for the last remaining rotation spot those prospects would have at that point would be Overton, Anderson, and possibly Gutierrez when he returns.

  7. Jon

    This is turning into another Todd Frazier or Johnny Cueto trade aftermath, except for the fact that the trade of Winker/Suarez was entirely unnecessary at the time. Williamson also took a step in the wrong direction at AAA last year after the Reds acquired him, if I remember reading correctly. Suarez himself would have been worth more in a trade this winter than what the Reds got last winter for both of them.

    • Bill

      With Cueto and Frazier the Reds held on too long, limiting trade value. With Suarez I thought it was more like the Chapman trade – they should have held on longer to regain value. It was reported they gave up Winker to get rid of Suarez’s contract. If true they could have gotten the same or better return for Winker by himself. I thought from the beginning it was a horrible trade, and then throw in the fact Dunn was known to be injured. To make it worse, they used the money saved on guys like Pham and Minor. Trading Winker never bothered me, and he was horrible last year so it was a good decision. Keeping Suarez until the trade deadline would have gotten a good return. The mid-season trades were great in 22, the pre season trades were confusing especially combined with the free agent signings

    • Jim Walker

      And old friend Adam Duvall was the shifted OF in this scheme!

    • MBS

      This is so annoying, MLB will have to make the rules even more restrictive.

    • Doug Gray

      People in the know figured this would happen on the most extreme of extreme pull hitters.

    • Melvin

      hahah. MLB will have to change the rules again. I will reiterate what I’ve always said. If a MLB player wants to work at it he can learn to beat the shift which will help him be a more rounded (better) player. I mean just look at the left field in that alignment. You can run all day hitting it there. Being a dead pull hitter is not wise (shift or not).

  8. Tom Mitsoff

    Regarding Dunn, it’s my belief he was never a focal point of the trade. The Reds knew he was hurt, and would never have made the move under the premise that Dunn was expected to be a prime contributor. He is among the many players they have acquired who was a former first-round draft pick who has fallen on hard times.

  9. Rod Andrews

    I’m sure Dunn has never pitched without pain since with the Reds, but I doubt hes got the stuff to be a top pitcher. My guess is that he will likely never pitch for the Reds again.

  10. JayTheRed

    Dunn is not getting surgery. Don’t worry he rehab the injury and at some point they will say he needs surgery and be out even longer.

    I honestly don’t have a lot of faith in the Reds medical staff at this point.

    • Doug Gray

      Well, the Mariners staff looked at it multiple times and said no surgery. The Reds staff looked at it multiple times and said no surgery. Dunn then went to a specialist who looked at it and said no surgery.

      This isn’t a “Reds have bad doctors” thing. A lot of highly regarded doctors have looked at his arm and said he doesn’t need surgery. Repeatedly.

  11. DW

    I really feel bad for Dunn. He has a lot of potential, but just can’t get healthy. He comes across as very mature, classy, and respectful in his interviews, so I was really rooting for him.

  12. RedsGettingBetter

    It should be something related to the delivery mechanics using by Dunn, maybe the angle or arm rotation I don’t know but the injury arises when he just start pitching. It’s a really very strange and murky case.