The Astros announced today that righty Joe Smith has undergone surgery for a ruptured Achilles tendon in his left leg. (H/t Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle, via Twitter.) It will sideline him for an estimated six-to-eight month stretch, putting a large chunk of his 2019 season in jeopardy.
Needless to say, that’s most unwelcome news for both player and team. Smith, 34, is said to have suffered the injury in a recent workout. The 34-year-old is slated to earn $8MM for the 2019 campaign, his second in Houston since signing a two-year deal last winter.
Smith, a crafty sidearmer who has held opposing right-handed batters to an anemic .215/.280/.311 batting line over his dozen MLB campaigns, would surely have been a part of the ’Stros pen again in 2019. Last year, he worked to a 3.74 ERA with 9.1 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9. He was tough to square up, as usual, but did allow nearly 1.4 homers per nine — about twice his career average.
Of course, it’s only fair to note that the organization will have a bevy of alternatives, particularly if it makes some rotation additions that bump other players into relief contention. Smith, in fact, was not much of a factor in the club’s postseason mix, cracking the roster but making just one appearance (which did not go well). Still, he’s a quality veteran performer and it always hurts to carry a salary commitment that doesn’t provide production. The Astros will have to hope that Smith is able to recover relatively quickly and provide a mid-season boost.