I have tossed and turned as I came to the realization that I have no legitimate way to defend Rougned Odor being a starter on this team.
I defended him all of last year. It was a year the Rangers were not contenders.

In my opinion, they needed to see if he was really as horrible as his numbers or just going through a down year. There was talk all through the season about he was not listening to the hitting coaches and being stubborn. In the last month of the season, he admitted as much and started to do what was asked.

This lead to what most hoped was him finally getting things straightened out. All of this was because of the way he had played early in his career. In 2015 and 2016 he put up numbers that most teams would be thrilled with from a second baseman.

It was 2017 that apparently the real Rougie showed up. He hit a career-low .204 with 30 HRs. It seemed he either hit a HR or did little else.  He also struck out a career-high 162 times. Most were wondering if this was a fluke. Every major leaguer has a down year. This was particularly bad, but was it real? In 2018 he rebounded. He hit .253 with 18 HR’s and raised his OPS back up over .750. Then 2019 arrived. He again hit 30 HR’s, but his average was back down to .205 and he had NEW career-high, as he struck out 178 times.

Coming into 2020 I think everyone knew his leash would be the shortest it has been in his career. The Rangers had other options to play second base in Danny Santana and Nick Solak. The only thing that made Odor the starter heading into spring training, was his salary.

He is owed $12 million in 2021 and 2022 in what is turning out to be one of the worst contract extensions in Rangers’ history.

It’s easy to see why JD locked him up. He was coming off his best year in 2016 after a good 2015. The $49 million seemed cheap, even if he didn’t put up those same numbers every year. But he is much worse than those numbers. It is easy to see when a player goes into a slump. They roll over balls, hit right at someone, or seem to have timing issues.

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The truth about Odor may be worse. He may just not be very good.

Even in the 2015 and 2016 years I personally thought his swing looked off. He was showing power and getting a lot of hits. But he seemed to have some luck. When I say that, I mean he would somehow hit bad pitches that found holes. The key was that he was swinging at bad pitches.

Eventually, you get what those in baseball call a book. Teams that scout you start to figure out that you swing at bad pitches or are a sucker for a certain pitch.

All of that compounded by a guy who is stubborn cause what we see now.

It is hard to convince someone to change something that has worked before. When Chris Woodward and his staff came in, the plan was to work pitch selection and patience. Learn your hot zone and try to work pitchers into your hot zone. Odor was a free swinger with a big leg kick, who found the barrel. Woodward’s plan worked for Gallo who upped his OBP and OPS by drawing more walks and forcing pitchers to come over the plate.

Although Gallo is in a slump right now, he has a very good fluid swing. He is working the system in place and has glimpses of getting out of his funk. More than anything, he is a threat to change the score with one swing. Odor thinks he is. So this is why I this called, “Odor ain’t going anywhere“?

My lizard brain started to consider the options with Odor going forward. I tried to figure trades, DFA’s, demotions, etc.


I came to the very unpopular conclusion of one thing. I don’t see Odor leaving this team.

The best Ranger fans who don’t like Odor can hope for is that he is benched. Here is why.


Trade

Odor is owed $24 million over the next two years. For the Rangers to trade him would require them to eat almost all of his contract. That’s if he performs well enough for any team to part with a fringe prospect to make the deal happen.

Would you trade someone for Rougned Odor at a league minimum?

JD would draw more contempt than he already does if he traded for him and gave away someone like Montero, Hernandez, or Palumbo after their first year as a pro. You lose a big-league arm for a second baseman who’s most memorable play was that he cold-cocked Jose Bautista.

DFA

Why would you just concede $24 million to another team? Say you DFA him and he becomes a player halfway between his awfulness and the guy from 2015 & 2016? The Rangers are still on the hook for his $24 million. Isn’t it better to just bench him? He is still good defensively. He can be a late-inning defensive replacement or a left-hand bat off the bench. He could also pinch-hit late in games and remain under Texas control.

Limited opportunities could draw a team into a situation where they part with a prospect or include him in a package for someone else. Maybe a deal like the Rangers made for Jason Bahr.

The Rangers took on Austin Jackson’s contract to get Jason Bahr and then DFA’d Jackson. Odor might be a candidate for that in 2021 or 2022.  My point is that he is owed too much money to just let him go. (Unless there is a legit dude to take his place like Maximo Acosta or Anderson Tejeda) But that’s at least another year or two away.


This adds up to the one conclusion that is keeping me away at night.
Rougned Odor isn’t going anywhere, so we better get used to that (at least not in 2020).

Featured Image: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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