Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus will not exercise the remaining opt-out clause in his eight-year, $120MM contract, tweets MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. It’s hardly a surprising decision, given that Andrus has three years and $43MM remaining on said contract and struggled through a second straight down year at the plate in 2019.
Andrus, 31, was mostly healthy this season after missing a substantial chunk of the 2018 campaign with a fractured elbow (suffered when he was hit by a pitch). Andrus scuffled mightily at the plate upon returning last year, and while this season’s .275/.313/.393 batting line in 147 games/648 plate appearances was an improvement over his post-injury form in 2018, it was still well south of the league average (76 wRC+, 78 OPS+).
This was the second and final chance that Andrus had to opt out of the eight-year extension he signed with the Rangers. He also had the opportunity to walk away from the final four years and $58MM on his contract last offseason but opted not to do so after the aforementioned struggles upon his return from injury. He’ll now earn salaries of $15MM in 2020, $14MM in 2021 and $14MM in 2022. The contract also has a vesting option that would guarantee Andrus a $15MM salary in 2023 if he totals 550 plate appearances in 2022 or a combined 1100 plate appearances in 2021-22. Those are highly attainable plate appearance totals — particularly for Andrus, who has only fallen shy of 550 PAs in a season twice before (last year, due to the broken elbow, and during his rookie campaign in 2009).
Clearly, the remainder of the contract isn’t a bargain for the Rangers, but Andrus remains a well-regarded defender and an above-average baserunner. If he can restore some combination of his 2016 levels of plate discipline (8.3 percent walk rate) and 2017 levels of power (20 home runs, .176 ISO), a return to average or slightly above-average offensive output is possible. It’s worth noting, too, that Andrus was sporting a hearty .303/.339/.453 slash at the All-Star break, although that was mostly the result of an absolute sizzling month of April. Also of note is that Andrus, who just wrapped up his 11th season with the Rangers, secured full 10-and-5 rights prior upon completion of the 2018 season, meaning he has full veto power over any trade scenario.