Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson is going to be out of action for four-to-six weeks due to a torn ligament in his hand, reports Russell Dorsey of Bally Sports and Stadium. Dorsey says that surgery is a possibility.
Anderson last played on Saturday and then began a two-game suspension for making contact with an umpire during an argument in late July. Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that, while serving the first game of that suspension on Sunday, Anderson traveled to have his hand examined. The Sox had an off-day on Monday and are playing a doubleheader today, the first game of which will be the second game of Anderson’s suspension. That means that they might not make a roster move until between games of the twin bill, but Anderson seems destined to land on the injured list at that point.
This news is obviously terrible for the White Sox as they are in the thick of a playoff race. The club is currently 55-53, two games behind the Twins and one game behind the Guardians in the American League Central, and 2 1/2 behind the Mariners for the final AL Wild Card spot. The club has dealt with myriad injuries all year long but have recently gotten the roster to a healthier position, relatively speaking. Outfielder Luis Robert was activated from the injured list last week, while outfielders Eloy Jimenez and Adam Engel, catcher Yasmani Grandal and closer Liam Hendriks all returned from IL stints in July. Now, their star shortstop is going to be out of commission for an extended stretch.
Anderson, 29, struggled in his first few MLB seasons but broke out in 2019 and has been excellent since. From the beginning of that campaign to the present, he’s hit 51 home runs, stolen 53 bases and has a batting line of .318/.347/.473. He has a wRC+ of 124, indicating his offense has been 24 percent better than league average in that time. He’s accrued 13.9 wins above replacement, according to FanGraphs, in that four-year stretch. This year, he already missed three weeks earlier in the season due to a strained groin, only getting into 79 games for the campaign so far. He’s hit six homers, swiped 13 bags and is hitting .301/.339/.395 for a wRC+ of 111. That’s a slight dip from his previous seasons but he’s still produced 2.2 fWAR on the year, production which will surely be missed.
Given the window for his absence, he likely won’t return until mid- to late-September. This year’s schedule was pushed back slightly due to the lockout in the offseason, meaning the final day of the regular season isn’t until Oct. 5. Regardless, there won’t be a lot of time left whenever Anderson is able to return.
Perhaps compounding the severity of this injury, the member of the White Sox to play shortstop the most this year apart from Anderson is Danny Mendick, who is himself on the injured list, out for the season after tearing his ACL in June. When Mendick went on the shelf, the club promoted 22-year-old prospect Lenyn Sosa, who was primarily a shortstop in the minors but has played second base in his four MLB games thus far. With Anderson and Mendick both out, he might have to step into an everyday role. He’s hit .331/.384/.549 in 62 Double-A games this year, .275/.316/.407 in 23 Triple-A games and .083/.154/.167 in those four MLB contests. Utility player Leury Garcia could be an option, though he’s never played more than 19 games at short in any given season, spending more time at second base and in the outfield. He’s hitting .216/.240/.282 on the year for a wRC+ of 46. Romy Gonzalez is on the 40-man roster, currently in the minors, but he’s hit just .219/.318/.354 in Triple-A this year, wRC+ of 83.
With none of the options on the roster inspiring much confidence, the club might look outside for additions to help them at short, though that will be difficult at this time of year. With the trade deadline in the rearview mirror, they can’t acquire any player that’s been on a 40-man roster this year via trade. As MLBTR’s Steve Adams recently outlined, trades are still possible for players that haven’t been on a 40-man roster this season, but that will obviously limit the Sox to options that are themselves fairly unexciting. Perhaps the club’s best option would be to look for a veteran recently cut loose from another team.