After undergoing surgery to fix a ruptured testicle earlier this month, Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger hasn’t received clearance for any running or baseball activities, manager Scott Servais told MLB.com’s Greg Johns and other reporters. While Haniger is doing some light weights work, the injury “was a little more serious than we’d originally anticipated,” Servais said. “So it may be he’s going to need to play a few games, obviously, before we just fire him out there….we’ll just have to wait and see.”
It now seems as if Haniger may not return until after the All-Star break, as Servais said he had hoped the outfielder could be back in the fold prior to July 7, the last game of the season’s unofficial first half. “But we just need to be patient,” Servais said, noting that the team will be cautious with Haniger’s recovery process.
Haniger had 15 homers and a .220/.314/.463 slash line over 283 plate appearances at the time of his injury. While these numbers still represent above-average production, all three slash line statistics were down from Haniger’s superior lines in 2017 and 2018. A .257 BABIP had something to do with the offensive decline, though Haniger’s strikeouts were way up (a 28.6% strikeout rate that soared above his 23.3% career mark).
While Haniger’s extra swing-and-miss tendencies were certainly a concern, he still would have attracted major attention on the trade front if the Mariners looked to move him at the deadline. Haniger drew some trade interest over the winter, though while Seattle has been aggressive in moving its higher-priced players, the M’s would have required a big return before dealing a long-term piece like Haniger. The outfielder is under team control through 2022 and will only reach arbitration eligibility for the first time this winter.
If Haniger won’t return until after the break, however, there might not be enough time before July 31 for him to show that he’s healthy and productive, so teams won’t be willing to give the Mariners the trade package they undoubtedly desire. Still, it was a longer shot that Haniger would actually be dealt this summer anyway, as the M’s are in no real rush to move him as a cost-controlled player. The club could easily wait until the winter to revisit Haniger’s market, if the Mariners end up dealing him at all.