SEPT. 9: Santana underwent elbow surgery and will miss seven to eight months, TR Sullivan of MLB.com tweets. That could jeopardize at least some of Santana’s 2021 campaign, which will be his final arbitration-eligible season. After Santana made a prorated $3.6MM this season, the Rangers will have to decide whether to keep him on the heels of a rough year.
SEPT. 5: Three injured Rangers players are done for the season, as manager Chris Woodward told reporters (including Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News) that Corey Kluber, Jose Leclerc, and Danny Santana won’t return to action in 2020. Kluber and Leclerc were each already on the 45-day injured list with teres major problems, while Santana has been on the 10-day IL since August 28 due to a right elbow strain.
The Rangers expected all three to be key contributors this season, hoping for a repeat of Santana’s breakout 2019 numbers, Leclerc to return to his 2018 form after a somewhat shaky 2019, and for Kluber to bounce back from an injured-plagued 2019 season that ultimately closed the book on the former ace’s tenure in Cleveland.
Instead, Kluber pitched in just one inning of one game for Texas before hitting the IL with a grade 2 tear of the teres major muscle. Leclerc only banked two games before suffering a strain in his own teres major muscle, while Santana has been limited to 63 PA in 15 games (and only a .145/.238/.273 slash line) thanks to two trips to the injured list. A right forearm strain put Santana on the 10-day IL on August 2 and kept him out of action until the middle of the month.
Leclerc is under contract through at least the 2022 season, while Santana has one more year of arbitration eligibility remaining before hitting free agency in the 2021-22 offseason. Santana obviously won’t earn much of a raise on his $3.6MM salary for 2020, but given how the Rangers (like many teams) are planning on a lower payroll next season, it is conceivable that Santana could be non-tendered and then pursued at a lower price than a salary in the ballpark of $3.6 or $3.7MM.
Of course, a big chunk of money will be coming off the Rangers’ books in the form of Kluber’s contract, as Texas is surely unlikely to exercise its $18MM club option on the veteran righty for the 2021 campaign. With just 36 2/3 total innings pitched since the start of the 2019 season, Kluber will be hard-pressed to find anything more than a single guaranteed year on his next contract, though his track record could still land him another Major League deal. We aren’t far removed, after all, from the dominant five-year stretch Kluber delivered in the Indians’ rotation from 2014-18 — 2.85 ERA, 10.1 K/9, 5.51 K/BB rate, two AL Cy Young Awards, and an average of 218 innings pitched.