As Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times first reported Friday morning, Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier will miss at least two months due to a fracture in his right hip. Kiermaier suffered the injury in the fifth inning of the Rays’ Thursday night game against the White Sox as he awkwardly slid into first base.
Kiermaier, 27, has posted a .258/.329/.408 slash line with seven homers through 262 plate appearances this season. He’s never been a dominant offensive player—his career-high OPS is .765, and that came during his rookie season in in 2014—but he’s an elite defender and is the two-time reigning AL Gold Glove winner in center field. He ranks second only to Byron Buxton among major-league center fielders this year in defensive runs saved according to FanGraphs.
Kiermaier’s elite defensive ability was a large factor in earning him the six-year contract extension that he received in March of this year. He’s guaranteed to receive $53.5 million over the length of the deal and could earn as much as $66.15 million if the Rays pick up his 2023 option.
Topkin reports that the Rays will call up Mallex Smith from Triple-A Durham and give him the first chance to start in center field during Kiermaier’s absence. Peter Bourjos, Colby Rasmus, and Steven Souza Jr. have also logged innings in center this season and could get opportunities at the position going forward.