The Rangers have placed shortstop Elvis Andrus on the 10-day injured list in between games of today’s doubleheader with the Athletics. Andrus has been sidelined due to a back strain and will be replaced on the active roster by callup Sherten Apostel, who will be in the starting lineup for the second game.
This is the second time this season that Andrus has been sidelined by a back strain, as a previous IL stint cost him just shy of two weeks of action. With so little time left on the schedule and the Rangers out of the playoff race, it’s probably safe to assume Andrus’ 2020 season is over.
The back injuries and a lack of production have combined to make 2020 a nightmare for Andrus, who is hitting only .194/.252/.330 with three homers. After seemingly breaking out with a .299/.348/.457 slash line over 1257 PA in the 2016-17 seasons, Andrus again struggled, batting .267/.311/.383 in 1076 PA in 2018-19.
With three straight seasons of subpar play now in the books, it remains to be seen what role (if any) Andrus will play in the Rangers’ future plans, as the team was already planning to give some more time at shortstop to younger players down the stretch. Texas still owes Andrus $14MM in each of the 2021 and 2022 seasons, and there is a $15MM club option for 2023 that could become guaranteed if Andrus receives either 1100 PA over the 2021-22 seasons, or just 550 PA in 2022. That 2023 vesting option becomes a player option if Andrus is either claimed on waivers or traded, which will make it even more difficult for the Rangers to potentially move Andrus in some type of bad-contract swap.
Apostel will make his MLB debut tonight, and has a chance to establish himself as a potential roster piece for 2021. Originally acquired from the Pirates in July 2018 as a player to be named later in the Keone Kela trade, Apostel has hit .249/.368/.426 over 1162 career minor league plate appearances, though he hasn’t played beyond the high-A level. The 21-year-old Curacao native is ranked as the Rangers’ 10th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline, and its scouting report contains the intriguing detail that “Texas fielded constant trade inquiries about him from other clubs.” Apostel is known for plus power and an outstanding throwing arm (no surprise, as he was also a pitching prospect in his younger days), at third base, though his eventual defensive future could be at first base rather than the hot corner.