The Rangers announced that catcher Jonah Heim has been placed on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to July 27, with a left wrist tendon strain. Outfielder Bubba Thompson was recalled to take his place on the roster. The club also swapped a couple of pitchers, with righty Josh Sborz reinstated from the 15-day IL while righty Owen White was optioned to Triple-A. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News relays that Heim will rest for two to three weeks before seeing if he can play through the pain. If not, he may require season-ending surgery, or that could be pushed to the offseason.
Heim, 28, departed Wednesday’s game with wrist soreness and it appears the issue is serious enough that he’ll sit out a few weeks. There’s still hope of him returning, but being without Heim for any amount of time is surely unwelcome for the Rangers, as he’s been one of the best backstops in the majors this year. He’s already tallied 14 home runs and is slashing .280/.337/.479 for a wRC+ of 123. He’s also been graded as a strong defender, leading to a tally of 3.5 wins above replacement from FanGraphs this year, trailing only Sean Murphy’s 3.7 among all major league catchers.
In the meantime, the club will rely on a catching tandem of Sam Huff and Mitch Garver. The latter is an above-average hitter but frequent injuries have prevented him from ever playing 105 games in a season and he hasn’t reached 70 games since 2019. He missed two months this year due to a knee sprain and has played 33 games, only donning the tools of ignorance in 13 of those. Huff has only played nine major league games this year, spending most of his time in the minors. But he’s hit well down there, slashing .298/.389/.546 for a 121 wRC+.
The Rangers should be fine with that duo for a while but will likely look for reinforcements of some sort. There are no other catchers on the 40-man roster and Garver’s persistent health issues make him hard to bank on for extended playing time. The trade deadline is now just four days away and midseason trades of catchers are tricky given the challenges of learning a new pitching staff on the fly, but the Rangers might have to try.
Austin Hedges of the Pirates would be an obvious candidate as an impending free agent on a struggling Pirates club, and he has already reportedly drawn trade interest. He’s a poor hitter but is generally considered an excellent defender. The White Sox are busily selling and could move Yasmani Grandal, though he’s making $18.25MM this year. Joey Bart seems to have been leapfrogged by Patrick Bailey and Blake Sabol in San Francisco. He’s in his final option year and will be out of options next year, which perhaps makes him disposable to the Giants in the long-term but useful to the Rangers in the short-term. The Mets are rolling with rookie Francisco Álvarez and could perhaps part with Omar Narváez or Tomás Nido. Victor Caratini is stuck behind William Contreras in Milwaukee and has garnered trade interest. Iván Herrera seems to be blocked in St. Louis by Willson Contreras and Andrew Knizner.
The Rangers have had a big lead in the American League West for much of the season but have recently seen the Astros pull within two games while the Angels, six games back, are aggressively making upgrades. Losing a key player like Heim is a rough development for them but they still have a few days to address it.