Well, Evan Gattis and his hernia surgery is a bummer, and it is not even Spring Training yet for the Houston Astros.
Even though he lost up to 18 pounds this offseason in preparation for the 2016 season, Houston Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis will reportedly be out of the foreseeable future due to a recent hernia surgery that took place yesterday.
The burly slugger, also known as “El Oso Blanco”, will reportedly be out four to six weeks, per a report from Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. While the injury does not appear to be significant, it now raises the question when Gattis will be ready to resume baseball activities. He could be able to return at the end of Spring Training if no setbacks are experienced, but it is far too early to determine that one way or another.
Even with the possibility of Gattis starting the season on the shelf, don’t expect the Astros to acquire any additional insurance. However, his absence will now open the door for a slew of internal hitters looking to impress. Preston Tucker, Matt Duffy, Tyler White, Jon Singleton, and A.J. Reed will be the primary benefactors from Gattis’ absence, and each will likely receive more at-bats during Spring Training. And if Gattis is indeed not cleared to play by April 4th at Yankee Stadium, then it wouldn’t be surprising if the Astros roll with multiple players rotating in and out of the designated hitter role till he returns.
But the more immediate effect of the Gattis’ surgery is the impact it may have on his upcoming arbitration hearing on February 16th. There is a $800K difference between the Astros and their designated hitter in proposed salary figures for 2016. And while an injury doesn’t necessarily mean that Gattis will be denied his proposed figure of $3.8 million, it certainly doesn’t help his chances. Or it could have no bearing whatsoever. Perhaps his 99 wRC+ and 0.0 WAR in 2015 had already determined which way the case will go.
Regardless, the Astros may have to replace temporarily one of the mainstays of the lineup who somehow managed to hit 27 home runs and 88 RBI after an abysmal start in his first year as an Astro. This is much easier said than done as power is more of a premium than ever. No doubt that the team will miss his presence in the lineup. But the organization has depth, and this is a perfect time for that depth to shine. Only time will tell.
**Statistics provided by Fangraphs**