The White Sox announced that second baseman Nick Madrigal is going on the 60-day injured list with a proximal tear of his right hamstring. Outfielder Brian Goodwin has been selected to the active and 40-man rosters in his place. Season-ending surgery is a possibility for Madrigal, general manager Rick Hahn tells reporters (including James Fegan of the Athletic). Madrigal has a complete tear of one hamstring tendon and a partial tear in another, per Hahn, who says the club will decide on a course of action for his rehab in about a week.
Madrigal left last night’s game after coming up lame while running to first base on a grounder. While there’s obviously still hope he can avoid surgery and make it back this season, his immediate placement on the 60-day IL demonstrates that even the best-case scenario involves a months-long absence. He won’t be eligible to return until the second week of August, and the Sox surely wouldn’t have placed Madrigal directly on the 60-day IL if there were any chance he’d be able to recover any sooner than that.
A former top five draft pick and well-regarded (if a bit divisive) prospect, Madrigal has begun his major league career in strong fashion. The diminutive infielder made his MLB debut last July, and he’s proven a highly productive player from that point forward. Madrigal has picked up 324 plate appearances over the past two years and combined to hit .317/.358/.406 (116 wRC+).
Madrigal’s quite an outlier in the modern game, which has skewed toward a three true outcomes style of play. The 24-year-old hits for virtually no power and rarely walks, but he’s one of the game’s preeminent contact hitters. His 7.9% strikeout rate this season is the second-lowest out of 142 qualified hitters (only Kevin Newman punches out less often), while his 91.8% contact rate leads that group. Overall, Madrigal’s atypical approach has paid off, as he’s hit for a high enough batting average to be a strong offensive player despite the lack of power.
He becomes the third young White Sox regular to require a lengthy IL stint. Left fielder Eloy Jiménez hasn’t played this season after straining a pectoral in Spring Training. His initial diagnosis called for a four-to-five month absence, so it’s possible he’ll return at some point in August or September. Center fielder Luis Robert went on the IL in early May due to a hip flexor strain. Robert’s injury shut him down from all baseball activities for three-to-four months, so it’s still not clear if he’ll be able to make it back this season.
In spite of those injuries, the South Siders find themselves in a good spot in the standings. At 37-24, Chicago leads the AL Central by four games over the Indians. FanGraphs gave the Sox an 83.1% chance of securing the division title entering the day. Madrigal’s injury figures to knock those odds down a bit, but their strong roster and early lead give them some breathing room.
That figures to reduce the urgency to acquire a second baseman from outside the organization, at least if further testing reveals Madrigal could return at some point late in the year. If the White Sox do wind up looking for an external upgrade, Adam Frazier (Pirates), Jonathan Schoop (Tigers) and Josh Harrison (Nationals) are among the second base-capable players who might find themselves on the market in advance of the July 30 deadline. For now, it seems Leury García and Danny Mendick are slated to man the keystone in Chicago.
Goodwin signed a minor league deal with the Sox last month. The 30-year-old has a useful .250/.317/.455 slash line in parts of five MLB seasons and is capable of playing all three outfield positions. Since joining the organization, Goodwin has put up a .244/.316/.395 mark in 95 plate appearances with Triple-A Charlotte.