There is no doubt that the play of Texas Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor has been a hot topic for the 2019 season. Odor signed a contract extension in 2017 for 6 years and $49.5 million.
Thought at the time to be a home run deal for Texas, it is now beginning to look like a mistake. Odor has failed to produce the numbers he amassed in 2016. Those numbers persuaded the Rangers to lock him up. But in baseball, there is guaranteed money. That means the Rangers can’t just release him and get out of paying. They also can’t back up the horse trailer and load up the horses they added to the deal. That begs the question.
What is the Rougie Solution?
As I contemplated this, it comes down to four real possibilities. I have listed them in order of fan preference. (It must be noted that the order of fan preference, is also least likely to most likely to happen)
The best-case scenario would be for the Rangers to move Odor in an offseason trade. The change of scenery might be good for Odor. Trading is going to be difficult and there is really only two ways it is possible.
The first would be to take on another team’s bad contract in exchange for Odors. I know this may be hard for some Ranger fans to believe, but other teams have also overpaid unpopular players. The Rangers would have to insist on a player who hates jewelry and buttons his shirt.
The second would be to send money along with Odor in a trade. The more money that goes, the better the prospect in return. The realistic best prospect would be a low level, high ceiling guy. Someone who also needs a change of scenery. Likely an 18 to 20-year-old who has struggled in pro ball. However, that sort of player would likely require the Rangers to pay a significant portion of Odor’s current contract.
Trade possibility: 20% chance of a trade at best.
The Rangers could also just cut their losses. If nobody has any interest in Odor they release him. He would easily clear waivers and become a free agent. He would most likely get snatched up right away by a team needing a quality defender at second base. The Rangers would still be on the hook for his remaining salary minus the league minimum that his new team would have to pay.
Releasing Odor is also a scenario that is very unlikely to happen. Unless he finishes the season with an 0-35 and 30 K’s, he would most likely be back at spring training next March. However, if he struggled in the spring he might find himself released then.
Release possibility: 20% chance at best. But still slightly more likely than trading.
Option Him To AAA
This is a tricky one. Odor has minor league options remaining. The problem is he also has 5 years of major league service. That means he would need to approve a demotion. Most people would not accept a demotion if it cannot be forced on them. There is potentially a way this could happen. However, it would require some negotiating on the Rangers part with assurances for Rougie. Hear me out.
Contrary to popular belief, Odor is a very unselfish player. He is a team player who wants to do what is best for the team, while also protecting himself. Let’s say Odor struggles the rest of the season. Then let’s say nobody wants to trade for him this offseason but the Rangers are still not ready to cut their losses. If he struggled in the spring, they might be able to approach him about the demotion. The Rangers would most likely have to make assurances. Were they not to bring him back up by a certain time, they would go ahead and release him. Odor might accept it in that situation. Especially if nobody had shown any interest in the offseason. Odor is a gold glove caliber defender. He has also shown an ability to slash .271/.296/.798 with 25 to 35 HR’s. Plus he has done everything asked of him.
Option Possibility: 30% chance at best if all circumstances play out.
Stick With Him
This is by far the most unpopular solution with a lot of Ranger fans. But this is also the most likely scenario, with a catch. Should Odor continue to do what he has done over the last couple of weeks, he may get another shot if he isn’t moved. While unpopular, it is also the smart thing to do in JD’s situation. Especially since the alternatives are not overly impressive. Over the last month, Santana has been worse than Odor and Solak isn’t nearly as good defensively. Just look at the slash lines over the last 30 games with Santana and Odor.
Odor: .202/.314/.700 with 4 HR’s
Santana: .190/.216/.613 with 7HR’s
While Solak has been very impressive, some believe he is better suited for the outfield or third base. He also hasn’t played many games and could be exposed eventually. Santana is starting to resemble the player who was released twice. Should Odor improve to a slash line near his career numbers, that’s not bad for an 8 or 9 hole right-handed second baseman. (.243/.293/.730) Especially if he continues to play defensively the way he has.
If the Rangers were to go into next season with Odor as their second baseman, there would be a catch. He would most likely have the shortest leash he has ever had. That scenario would mean he had an amazing spring. Were he to start off the regular season bad, his chances would be up. I can’t imagine he would be a bench player for $9 million a year. The more likely scenario would be to attempt to demote him or just release him. The Rangers will have worn out all patience by then.
Stick With Him Possibility: 50% chance the Rangers end up with Odor in the opening day roster.
The most likely solution is also the most unpopular one with fans. But Jon Daniels is known for not caring what the fans think. He doesn’t make emotional decisions. He makes business decisions and for the most part good ones.
Odor will most likely be dangled out there for trade possibilities. There will also be internal talks about cutting him loose. But when the dust settles, the most likely solution will be to play it out. This could also be the smartest move. Sometimes you have to exhaust all the options before taking the loss. This applies to business and baseball. Especially with a 25-year-old asset.
The Rangers think they should contend for a wild card in 2020. They will spend money this offseason and will expect to play meaningful baseball in September. Whether or not Rougned Odor is part of that, is still a huge question.
The fact remains; there just isn’t an easy Rougie Solution.
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