Twins catcher Mitch Garver exited last night’s game after taking a foul tip from the bat of Trey Mancini to the groin, and while the initial diagnosis was only a contusion, additional tests provided a more concerning outlook. Garver announced on his Instagram story that he underwent surgery after undergoing ultrasound imaging at the emergency room. Thankfully, Garver adds that he is “recovering well,” but the mere fact that surgery was required likely points to an absence of some note.
The Twins have yet to make a formal announcement on the injury or provide a timeline for the 30-year-old Garver’s return, but the injury comes at a poor time given the catcher’s red-hot bat of late. While Garver got out to a very slow start in 2021, he’d righted the ship with a huge .286/.430/.651 showing over his past 24 games (19 starts). In 79 plate appearances during that stretch, he’d connected on six home runs and five doubles with nearly as many walks (16) as strikeouts (20).
With Garver presumably sidelined for a bit, the Twins have some options behind the plate. They were already carrying three catchers, with Ben Rortvedt and utilityman Willians Astudillo both on the roster. Minnesota could run with that tandem, but the Twins also have one of baseball’s top catching prospects, Ryan Jeffers, with their Triple-A club in St. Paul.
Jeffers, 23, came up in 2020 after a Garver injury and debuted with a .273/.355/.436 slash in 62 plate appearances. He started poorly in 2021 and was optioned to St. Paul for everyday at-bats once the Triple-A season began. He’s hitting for a low average with the Saints (perhaps due in part to an ugly .235 BABIP), but Jeffers is drawing walks and hitting for power as well. Overall, he’s at .217/.340/.446 with five homers and four doubles in 103 plate appearances since being sent down. He’s regarded as a potential everyday option behind the dish, while Rortvedt is more of a glove-first backup and Astudillo is a more of utility option and part-time catcher.
It remains to be seen just what route the team will take, but the injury is a notable blow to a Twins team that really can’t afford further injury woes. His recent hot streak was a small sample, but Garver looked to be trending back toward the offensive levels he put forth in 2019 when he batted .273/.365/.630 with 31 homers in just 359 plate appearances. Subtracting that bat from an already flailing Twins roster does nothing to improve a bleak outlook for the 22-31 surprising AL Central cellar dwellers.