Leclerc has battled elbow soreness since last week, so this news isn’t surprising, but it will rob him of an entire season and the Rangers of their best reliever. The 27-year-old threw just two innings last season as he dealt with a strain of his right teres muscle, and this latest injury will continue to throw a once-promising career off course.
Between 2016-19, Leclerc threw 187 innings of 3.16 ERA ball, and though he walked almost 15 percent of batters during that span, he helped offset that with a 33 percent strikeout rate and a fastball that averaged upward of 95 mph. The Rangers were so impressed with Leclerc’s work that they signed him to a four-year, $14.75MM extension before 2019. It looked like a worthwhile gamble at the time, but it hasn’t worked out as hoped for Texas because of Leclerc’s arm troubles. His deal still includes one more guaranteed season, in which he’s also sure to miss time as he recovers from this surgery, and two years with club options for $6MM or more or buyouts worth $750K or less apiece.
With Leclerc done for the season, it’s unclear who will open the season as the Rangers’ closer. Ian Kennedy and Matt Bush look like the most logical candidates, as they have game-ending experience and the Rangers selected their contracts over the weekend. Taylor Hearn and Josh Sborz are also among those who could be in the mix. Regardless, the loss of Leclerc is a significant one for the Rangers.