Rangers catcher Mitch Garver will undergo surgery to repair his injured flexor tendon on Monday morning, reports Levi Weaver of The Athletic. This surgery will wipe out the remainder of his season.
The fact that Garver requires the surgery isn’t shocking, as the issue has been known for some time. He has been playing through the injury, able to hit but not throw. He’s played exclusively as a designated hitter or pinch hitter over the past couple months, with his last appearance behind the dish coming on May 8.
Garver spoke to reporters about the situation a few weeks ago, noting that the surgery was inevitable. The only question was about the timing. Since the estimated recovery time for the surgery is 7-8 months, Garver and the Rangers had to decide on one of two courses of action. In one scenario, Garver would play out the remainder of the season hurt and then get surgery in the offseason. That would mean missing part of the 2023 campaign while recuperating. The second course of action would mean getting surgery sooner, in order to hopefully be fully healthy before next season. It seems they have now decided on the latter option.
This is surely a disappointing turn of events for the Rangers, who acquired Garver from the Twins in the offseason trade that sent Isiah Kiner-Falefa to the Twins (who later traded him to the Yankees). Despite the injury, Garver has still been able to hit at an above-average rate, slashing .212/.292/.419 coming into tonight’s game. That amounts to a wRC+ of 103, or 3% above league average, but it’s a far cry from the .256/.358/.517 he put up last year, producing a 137 wRC+. He’ll now miss the final few months of the season while rehabbing.
The lack of Garver shouldn’t totally decimate the Rangers’ season, as Garver’s absence has been filled by the breakout season of Jonah Heim. Acquired from the A’s in the trade that sent Elvis Andrus to Oakland, Heim is hitting .257/.312/.480 on the year for a wRC+ of 125. When combined with his defensive contributions, he’s already produced 1.9 fWAR on the year.
Both Garver and Heim are still under team control next year, giving the club a powerful two-headed catching duo once Garver is healthy. Garver hits right-handed and Heim is a switch-hitter, making it possible that both of them get regular playing time in a platoon, with each of them also getting occasional turns as the designated hitter. Garver will be in his final season of control, making him a potential trade candidate in the offseason, with the club then turning the job over to Heim going forward. However, the uncertainty around Garver’s health will be an obstacle to the Rangers finding a deal to their liking.
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