The Rangers have informed infielder Rougned Odor that he will not make the team’s Opening Day roster, as NBC 5’s Pat Doney first reported (Twitter link). Odor will be designated for assignment, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets. Texas still owes him $27MM over the next two seasons, and because he has five-plus years of MLB service, he can still collect that salary even if he clears waivers and is released. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News tweets that the Rangers will select the contract of veteran infielder Charlie Culberson, who has made the roster.
Odor’s DFA further emphasizes the Rangers’ youth movement and closes the book on one of the more regrettable financial commitments in the franchise’s history. Nearly four years ago to the day, Odor inked a six-year, $49.5MM contract extension buying out his arbitration seasons and a handful of free-agent years. At the time, he was coming off a two-year run that saw him bat .267/.305/.487 with 49 home runs — including a 33-homer campaign in 2016.
Questionable on-base skills gave some reason for concern, but Odor was a former Top 50 overall prospect who looked the part of a slugging second baseman. Few could’ve reasonably forecast such a stark decline in such rapid fashion, however. Odor struck out at just a 19.4 percent clip from 2015-16 with the Rangers, but his whiff rate jumped to 25 percent in 2017 and has now climbed as high as 30.9 percent from 2019-20. Odor maintained much of his power, but his suddenly sky-high strikeout rates made it difficult to keep his average north of .200. His OBP, meanwhile has routinely been south of .300.
In all, since signing the extension, Odor has turned in an awful .215/.279/.418 batting line and fanned in about 27 percent of his plate appearances. His defensive ratings have tumbled in recent seasons as well, further shining a spotlight on his struggles.
With Odor now out of the picture and Elvis Andrus traded to Oakland, it looks to be a new era for the Rangers infield. They’ll task Isiah Kiner-Falefa with manning shortstop on the regular, and Odor’s departure should pave the way for Nick Solak to get everyday at-bats at second base. While Solak’s glovework draws questionable reviews itself, he’s a well-regarded offensive prospect — even if he struggled during last year’s shortened schedule.
The Rangers will have a week to trade Odor, place him on outright waivers or release him. That timeline is something of a moot point, however, as no team is going to agree to acquire the remainder of the contract either via trade or waivers. It’s perhaps possible that the Rangers will find some kind of bad contract swap, but the likeliest outcome is that Odor will simply be released and free to seek opportunities with other clubs. Should he sign elsewhere, his new club would only be required to pay him the prorated league minimum for any time spent on the MLB roster. That sum would be subtracted from the $27MM the Rangers still owe him.