When considering whether to draft Corey Seager to your Fantasy Baseball teams, how you felt about his injury risk was always going to be a significant part of the calculation. And that became even more of a concern this week, as we learned Seager is undergoing surgery to repair a sports hernia injury suffered during last year's playoffs.

That injury makes Seager's World Series MVP trophy even more impressive, but it also complicates his timetable for the start of the 2024 MLB season. Seager tried the rest and rehab approach to the injury, but it didn't heal as much as hoped, so the decision to undergo surgery was made in recent weeks. According to reports, the team hopes Seager can be back by Opening Day, but with just about eight weeks to go, that timetable is no sure thing. 

Looking at other players who had sports hernia surgeries in recent years tells us as much. Last year, for example, Rockies outfielder Randal Grichuk had a similar surgery in mid-February and ended up missing most of the first month of the season, ultimately debuting April 29, around 80 days after the injury. Even accounting for the fact that he debuted on a rehab assignment 11 days earlier, a similar timetable would make it tough for Seager to be ready for Opening Day, a mere 58 days after his surgery was announced. 

That's a data point of one, obviously, but in perusing BaseballProspectus's Recovery Dashboard tool, there aren't many prior situations that suggest a more optimistic timetable. Evan White missed 53 days between his surgery and his debut in the minors in 2022, which would give Seager just enough time to be ready for Opening Day, or shortly thereafter with a rehab assignment; however, during that same season, Trevor Larnach missed 83 days between his surgery and his return to game action.

Every player and every surgery is different, but the point here is, that the timetable Seager is likely looking at could see him ready right around Opening Day in a best-case scenario, but it's not out of the question he could miss much of the first month of the season, too. 

Now, if all that happens is Seager misses a few weeks of games and then comes back and is Corey Seager the rest of the way, I might not even downgrade him much in my rankings. After all, Seager just hit .327/.390/.623 with 33 homers and 184 combined runs and RBI in just 119 games last season. He legitimately might be one of the five best hitters in baseball right now, and a couple of weeks at the beginning of the season would do little to change his value in the long run. 

But we can't just assume the best-case scenario will happen, right? There's always the potential for setbacks, especially if Seager tries to rush back in time for Opening Day. Beyond that risk, Seager is likely to have either a limited or completely absent presence at Spring Training, disrupting his typical prep for the season, which could lead to a slow start, possibly one that lingers and derails the whole season.

And, of course, there's the elephant in the room whenever we're talking about Seager, which is his lengthy injury history even before this issue. He missed time with a hamstring injury and a thumb sprain last season, had a fractured hand in 2021, missed a month with a hamstring issue in 2019, and had Tommy John surgery in 2018. Those injuries mostly seem unrelated, so it might just be a string of bad luck, but if you were drafting Seager, you were already getting a discount because of concerns about his ability to stay healthy – and now he's already going to be coming back from surgery to open the season, whenever he does.

Add it all up, and you have to downgrade Seager even further. I dropped him from the mid-teens in my overall rankings to the mid-30s – to a range with Jose Altuve, Bo Bichette, and Michael Harris, three high-upside hitters who also come with somewhat significant question marks of their own. None of their ceilings may be as high as Seager's, of course, but all three are also presently healthy as they prepare for the season. 

That range feels right to me, though it's worth noting that Scott White and Frank Stampfl are a bit less concerned, dropping Seager to 28th and 30th in their rankings, respectively. That lack of concern may ultimately be the right call – if Seager makes it back by mid-April and plays the way we know he's capable, he'll be a steal even at 28th overall. 

But there are just an awful lot of ways things could go wrong for a player undergoing surgery just a few weeks before the start of the season. And, given Seager's pre-existing injury concerns, plus the fact that as good as he was in 2023, it was a clear outlier for his career, I just can't justify a top-three-round pick on him. I may very well come to regret that, and I might end up moving Seager up as we get closer to the start of the season. But right now, this injury has scared me off of him.