The Rangers announced that they’ve recalled outfielder/designated hitter Willie Calhoun from Triple-A Nashville and placed shortstop Elvis Andrus on the 10-day injured list due to a hamstring strain. Texas also optioned righty Wei-Chieh Huang to Nashville and recalled left-hander Jeffrey Springs.
Calhoun, of course, isn’t going to step into shortstop duties in Andrus’ absence. He’s in the lineup at designated hitter tonight, while veteran utilityman Logan Forsythe is getting the first look at short in place of Andrus. Calhoun figures to split his time between left field and designated hitter; he played second base earlier in his minor league career but has logged just three games there in 2019 and didn’t play the position at all in 2018.
It’ll be Calhoun’s third straight season of at least partial duty with the Rangers since being acquired as the centerpiece of the trade that sent Yu Darvish to the Dodgers. At the time, Calhoun was considered to be one of the game’s premier minor league hitters but lacked a defensive home. While the questions about his glovework haven’t subsided, his 2018 struggles at the plate in the Majors (.222/.269/.333) and a decrease in his production in Triple-A (.294/.351/.431) caused his stock to slip a bit.
Still just 24 years of age, however, Calhoun has begun to rebuild his credentials with a robust .304/.416/.557 start to the season in Nashville. After hitting just nine home runs in 470 Triple-A plate appearances in 2018, he’s already slugged eight long balls in 138 trips to the plate so far in 2019. He’s still viewed as a potential long-term piece for the Rangers, and Delino DeShields’ recent demotion to the minors has pushed Joey Gallo from left field into center field, thus creating some room for Calhoun to join the roster. So long as Calhoun hits, today’s promotion could prove to be a move with long-term ramifications.
As for Andrus, it’s not yet clear just how much time he’s expected to miss, but any trip to the injured list is critical for a player with an opt-out clause at season’s end. The 30-year-old had gotten out to a terrific .325/.373/.510 start to the season. Through 169 plate appearances so far, Andrus has tallied six home runs, nine doubles, a triple and eight stolen bases while striking out at just a 16.6 percent clip. He’ll have the ability to opt out of the final three years and $43MM remaining on his contract after the season, though given the fact that he’d receive a qualifying offer in that scenario and would be entering his age-31 season in 2020, exercising that provision could be a long shot.