Tommy Kahnle's journey after his last stint with the New York Yankees was a difficult one. He underwent Tommy John surgery in August of 2020 after pitching just one inning that season and then landed with the Dodgers in what was a generous move by LA to help Kahnle get back on track.
He signed a two-year, $4.75 million contract with the Dodgers hoping he would deliver in Year 2 of the deal. But after not sniffing the mound in 2021 as he rehabbed, he struggled with his health in 2022.
In the end, he pitched 14.2 innings with the Dodgers (including the postseason) as he experienced lingering elbow issues. His layoff was a long one -- he didn't pitch from July 27, 2020 through April 30, 2022. When he made his first appearance since TJ on May 1, 2022, he hit the IL on May 14 and didn't return until Sept. 14.
Kahnle continued to battle, though, and returned to pitch 8.2 innings of one-run ball in Sept. and Oct. last season. He allowed just two hits, walked one, and struck out nine in what was his first true consistent action in over two years.
The mental expedition was just as taxing as the physical one, too. Kahnle revealed on the R2C2 podcast with Ryan Ruocco and CC Sabathia this past week that at one point during his recovery, he was told he may never play baseball again, with the odds being "possibly 50-50."
Yankees' Tommy Kahnle reveals scary truth about his Tommy John surgery
From unsure if he'll ever pitch again to earning nearly $16 million since 2021 because of his potential and resilience. The cherry on top was Kahnle turning down more money from the Boston Red Sox to play for the Yankees again this winter.
Talk about a free agency win for the Bombers. They also got the Dodgers to pretty much pay for his entire rehab and, if all things go well, will presumably get the 2017 and 2019 versions of the right-hander now that he's almost fully back on track.
Even better are the energy and positive vibes the 33-year-old brings to a roster desperately in need of such an infusion. Kahnle's personality and approach lightens the mood when things get bleak ... but he also brings a fiery competitive edge on the other side of the spectrum. Between him and Carlos Rodón, the pitching staff as a whole should have a newfound personality.
Maybe it's time the rest of this team starts acting like there's no tomorrow. Kahnle can provide a little of that urgency, since that's what characterized his last two years.