5:40pm: The Rangers announced that Leclerc will be shut down for at least four weeks and will undergo platelet-rich plasma treatment later this week. He’s been placed on the 45-day injured list, which opens a spot on the 45-man roster.
5:05pm: Rangers closer Jose Leclerc has been diagnosed with a Grade 2 strain of the teres major in his right shoulder, the team announced to reporters (Twitter link via Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram). It’s the same diagnosis that recently sidelined Corey Kluber for the bulk of the 2020 season, though the club believes Leclerc’s injury to be a bit less severe. An exact timeline isn’t clear just yet, but Leclerc will miss a significant portion of the shortened 2020 season.
It’s not immediately cleae who’ll step into the ninth inning in Leclerc’s absence. Nick Goody got the call and converted a save last night with Leclerc unavailable, and he’s one of the more experienced arms in the Texas ’pen (despite being claimed off release waivers this winter). Veterans Jesse Chavez and Edinson Volquez are the only other relievers on the roster who have even two full years of Major League service time. A committee of sorts seems likeliest for now, although Goody’s perfect inning last night could give him the inside track if the Rangers opt to go with a set ninth-inning option.
Leclerc, 26, showed the ability to miss bats in bunches as a rookie in 2017 but demonstrated alarming control issues that year. In 2018, he looked to have put everything together, though, when he fired 57 2/3 frames of 1.56 ERA ball with 12 saves, 13.3 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9. That electric showing led the Rangers to sign him to a four-year, $14.75MM extension in March 2019. He stumbled out of the gates last year, but after a miserable month of April the flamethrowing righty pitched to a 3.57 ERA with 86 strikeouts against 30 walks in 58 frames.
The Rangers still have Leclerc signed through at least the 2022 season, and his contract contains affordable options for the 2023 and 2024 seasons: $6MM and $6.25MM, respectively. Leclerc is earning $2.25MM in 2020 (about $810K, prorated) and is guaranteed $4MM in 2021 and $4.75MM in 2022.