Elvis Andrus has been the Rangers’ everyday shortstop since he debuted in 2009, but those days are coming to an end. He’ll take on a utility role in 2021, while Isiah Kiner-Falefa will have an opportunity to become the Rangers’ starting shortstop, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports.
The 32-year-old Andrus has thrived at times, which led the Rangers to give him an eight-year, $120MM extension that kicked in during 2015, but his production has tumbled in recent seasons. Dating back to 2018, Andrus has batted a dismal .260/.306/.378 (73 wRC+) with 21 home runs and 39 stolen bases across 1,187 plate appearances. He’ll now play multiple positions in the rebuilding Rangers’ infield, where they have questions everywhere, including at second base. Rougned Odor has been Andrus’ longtime double-play partner, but his starting job also isn’t set in stone, Grant tweets.
The Rangers may want to jettison Andrus and Odor in trades, but it would be difficult to find takers for either. Andrus has another two years and $28MM left on his contract, while Odor’s deal includes two more seasons at $27MM (including a $3MM buyout for 2023). Those are steep commitments for players who have offered poor production for multiple seasons in a row. In Andrus’ case, Grant notes he has 10-and-5 rights, and his $15MM club option for 2023 would turn into a player option in the event of a trade. With those facts in mind, it will be that much more of a challenge for the Rangers to trade him.
Kiner-Falefa, like Andrus and Odor, has not hit much in the past few seasons. He came into the league in 2018 and has since batted .260/.319/.351 (75 wRC+) with eight homers and 18 steals in 846 PA. Kiner-Falefa has seen action at a handful of positions, though, and he even earned an American League Gold Glove Award for the work he did at third base in 2020. The Rangers are hopeful the 25-year-old’s value will increase at short, though it’s unclear who will start for the team at third. It’s “likely” they’ll pick up a third baseman on a one-year deal in free agency to help bridge the gap to prospect Josh Jung, according to Grant.