While it seems no such move is imminent, the Rangers are at least contemplating cutting into the playing time of second baseman Rougned Odor, reports Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The 25 year-old is amidst his second dreadful season in three years.
Among qualified hitters, only Orlando Arcia has been less productive in the batters’ box than Odor, whose .197/.273/.406 slash (67 wRC+) is a far cry from the passable production he logged just last season. As the slash line indicates, Odor hasn’t had trouble hitting for power, as he’s bopped 21 home runs and posted a strong .209 ISO. Rather, he’s just given away way too many plate appearances, whether via strikeout (31.6%) or pop-up (15.6% IFFB). Odor ranks in the top ten leaguewide in both categories, with only Domingo Santana more strikeout-prone among qualifiers.
Given that lackluster performance and Odor’s similarly abysmal 2017 numbers, the organization’s patience is wearing thin. General manager Jon Daniels candidly acknowledged to Grant that “big ups and downs don’t work from a team standpoint, not when you are in the lineup every day,” and pointed out the organization has “some guys who overlap from a positional standpoint.”
Daniels clarified that his comments weren’t meant to be punitive or to put extra pressure on Odor, who both GM and manager Chris Woodward stressed has remained extremely diligent in trying to work out of the rut. That said, it’s impossible to continue to run out a player who makes as many outs as Odor has been making, and Texas does indeed have other interesting, if flawed, options.
As Grant notes, the Rangers swung a July deal with the Rays to acquire rookie second baseman Nick Solak. Amazingly, Solak’s only less than a year younger than Odor, who has been a big league mainstay for half a decade, but the rookie projects as a better hitter moving forward. Texas also has veteran Danny Santana, who has seen quite a bit of action at first base this year but profiles better at the keystone.
Whether either of those players is good enough to unseat Odor remains to be seen. Solak is a well-regarded hitting prospect but comes with a spotty at best defensive reputation, while Santana’s already 28, has a mediocre track record and has been quite BABIP-reliant in 2019. Utility prospect Eli White, meanwhile, is expected to be out for the season after suffering a shoulder injury in Triple-A.
All things considered, it seems Odor will get a little more run in Arlington. He’s starting again today, for one, and Texas’ brass continued to express optimism in his nascent ability, presumably referring to his raw power. Odor does still sport an 85th percentile hard contact rate and has 127 home runs (and counting) through his age-25 season. There are clearly still things to like about him as a player.
Nevertheless, Odor’s through over 3,000 career plate appearances with a subpar .241/.292/.435 slash (87 wRC+). He’s due another $36MM guaranteed through 2022 (with a 2023 club option) on the six-year extension he inked in March 2017, a deal that looks questionable for the team in hindsight. That price tag, while not crippling, could make an offseason trade difficult, so Texas has little recourse but to keep him on the roster. If they’re to keep running him out onto the field, though, he’ll need to tighten up his plate approach sooner rather than later.