Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger underwent core surgery earlier this week, GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters, including Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times (Twitter links), MLB.com’s Greg Johns, and The Athletic’s Corey Brock. Haniger is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks, and the outfielder will miss some time at the start of the season after missing such a large chunk of Spring Training.
The procedure was necessitated by a setback while Haniger was already rehabbing from the surgery that ultimately cut short his 2019 season after just 63 games. Haniger didn’t play after June 6 after suffering a ruptured testicle, and Divish noted he was at risk of suffering from a hernia or another core injury “if Haniger pushed too much in his recovery and rehab.”
While Dipoto said that he didn’t think Haniger would miss too many of the Mariners’ early games, today’s news obviously isn’t a welcome one given how Haniger’s career has already been interrupted by this particularly brutal injury. The right fielder was becoming a breakout star in his first two seasons in Seattle, hitting .284/.361/.492 with 42 home runs over 1093 plate appearances in 2017-18. While Haniger’s 2019 production was down a bit from that level prior to his injury, he was still providing above-average offense (106 wRC+, 109 OPS+) in his abbreviated season.
Haniger’s surgery also almost surely ends any possibility that he might be a late-offseason trade candidate. The M’s received some significant trade interest in Haniger this past winter, with the Diamondbacks cited as one of the known suitors. Dipoto reportedly set a high asking price in trade talks, and wasn’t willing to settle for any sort of buy-low offer in the wake of Haniger’s injury.
Assuming no further setbacks and Haniger is indeed able to return by late April, the 29-year-old will have plenty of time to re-establish himself as a quality offensive and defensive performer. Haniger is set to earn $3.01MM in 2020, and with two more arbitration-eligible seasons to come, he’ll put himself in line for a nice raise if he returns to his 2017-18 form. Such a performance could also make Haniger a name to watch for the July trade deadline, if Dipoto and the Mariners still have their eyes set towards the future.