While Rangers slugger Joey Gallo was eyeing a Sept. 20 return to the lineup, that’s no longer a realistic return date, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News tweets. The Rangers aren’t certain that Gallo will make it back to the team at all before season’s end, he adds. Gallo has been out for nearly two months since fracturing his hamate bone in late July. The initially projected timeline of roughly six weeks has come and gone, but Gallo is still experiencing discomfort in his hand and lacking in grip strength, per Grant.
If Gallo’s season has indeed come to a close, it’ll go down as a strong year even in spite of the lengthy injury absence. The 25-year-old launched 22 home runs in just 297 plate appearances this season while posting a career-best 17.5 percent walk rate. Gallo’s 38.4 percent strikeout rate is still among the highest in the league, and he’s unlikely to repeat the .368 average on balls in play that helped buoy his overall batting line to .253/.389/.598. Even with some regression in terms of his batting average (and, inherently, his on-base percentage), Gallo should still be an above-average offensive producer and among the league’s top power threats again in 2020.
Perhaps the most encouraging development for Gallo and the Rangers, though, came on the defensive side of the coin. Gallo spent the entire season not just in the outfield but in center field for a large portion of his time on the active roster (309 innings). He’s previously turned in sub-par defensive ratings in left field but drew plus marks both there and in center field from metrics such as Defensive Runs Saved, Ultimate Zone Rating and Outs Above Average. If Gallo is able to hack it as even a passable defensive center fielder, the combination of average or better glovework at a premium position and his virtually unrivaled raw power would make him an extremely valuable all-around player — gaudy strikeout rate and potentially low-.200s average notwithstanding.
Gallo will be eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter and should be well served by the 110 home runs he’s already amassed in his young big league career. He’s under team control through the 2022 season, though Texas could certainly explore the idea of working out a longer-term contract with Gallo this coming winter. The two sides have talked extension in the past, but there’s been no indication of any 2019 talks to this point.