The Twins announced that catcher Sandy Leon has been placed on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to September 24, and will undergo right knee meniscus surgery. Taking his place on the active roster is fellow catcher Ryan Jeffers, who has been reinstated from the 60-day injured list. The club already had an opening on its 40-man roster for Jeffers. Should they need another roster spot in the final days of the season, they can transfer Leon to the 60-day IL since this move will keep him out beyond the end of the schedule.
Earlier today, MLBTR’s Steve Adams wrote about Carlos Correa and highlighted the tremendous amount of injuries the Twins have suffered this season. One of the many players missing significant time was Jeffers, who went on the IL in mid-July due to a thumb contusion and has only now returned. He was having a decent season before that injury, having hit .214/.291/.375. That only amounts to a 92 wRC+, which is 8% below the league average hitter. However, this year’s league average slash line for a catcher is .227/.296/.368, 89 wRC+. Jeffers produced strong work on the other side of the ball, accruing four Defensive Runs Saved and a mark of 3.2 from the FanGraphs framing metric, allowing him to produce 1.0 fWAR in just 60 games.
Jeffers and Gary Sanchez had been splitting the time behind the plate in the Minnesota, with Sanchez taking on a larger role after Jeffers landed on the shelf. The Twins also used Caleb Hamilton for a couple of weeks before turning to the veteran Leon, who had been in the minors with the Guardians. The Twins swung a trade for Leon at the deadline and called him up to the big league team. Outside of a scorching hot 2016 season that now seems like an outlier, Leon has never been much of an offensive threat. That continued to the be the case in his time with the Twins, as he hit .179/.270/.232 for a wRC+ of 50. With just over a week remaining in the campaign and the Twins out of contention, this IL placement will finish his season. It’s unclear how long it will take him to recover from this surgery, but he will he will head into free agency in just over a month and look to heal up and find his next opportunity.
Since Sanchez is also an impending free agent, Jeffers is lined up to be the club’s primary catcher for next season. Hamilton will likely still be around as well, but it’s possible the club will look to add another established backstop during the offseason. By returning at this stage of the calendar, Jeffers will have the opportunity to get a handful of games in and finish the season on a positive note before the winter arrives. Both he and the Twins will be hoping for better results in 2023, after injuries caused them to fall short of expectations this year.