The Rangers have placed right-hander Jose Leclerc on the 15-day injured list due to a sprained right ankle, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). The IL placement is retroactive to June 21. Right-hander Yerry Rodriguez is getting the call from Triple-A to take Leclerc’s spot on the active roster.
Leclerc has a 3.42 ERA over 23 2/3 innings this season, on the strength of some very strong soft-contact numbers, an above-average 25.3% strikeout rate, and an elite 34.3% whiff rate. However, Leclerc’s work has been undermined by his 15.2% walk rate, which ranks among the worst in the league. The metrics more or less match up with Leclerc’s numbers over his past full Major League seasons, with the lack of control limiting his ability to be a truly reliable high-leverage arm in the Texas bullpen. As such, Will Smith took over closing duties from Leclerc earlier this season.
The Rangers signed Leclerc to a four-year, $14.75MM extension in March 2019 in the hopes that he would develop into a top-tier bullpen arm, and that extension got off to a bad start given that Leclerc missed almost all of the 2020 and 2021 seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery. Texas has two club option years attached to the deal, beginning with a $6MM option ($750K buyout) on Leclerc’s services for the 2024 season. For now, the team’s only concern is on getting the righty back on the mound, as there isn’t yet any indication if Leclerc could be facing a minimal absence or if his sprain is a longer-term concern.
After struggling earlier in the season, the Rangers’ bullpen has stabilized to some extent, even though the relief corps is still a relative weak link on a team that has been otherwise firing on all cylinders. With Texas leading the AL West and looking like strong contenders to return to the postseason, relief pitching figured to be at the top of the Rangers’ wishlist heading into the trade deadline even prior to Leclerc’s injury.