Texas Rangers: It’s time to move on from Rougned Odor

CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 16: Rougned Odor #12 of the Texas Rangers looks on as rain falls in the ninth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on June 16, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Reds won 11-3. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 16: Rougned Odor #12 of the Texas Rangers looks on as rain falls in the ninth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on June 16, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Reds won 11-3. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Difficult decisions come up frequently for executives in sports. The Texas Rangers are facing one with Rougned Odor.

Rougned Odor was one of many young players the got a crack at significant playing time in the injury-plagued 2014 Texas Rangers season. He then followed up a decent 2014 performance by becoming a key contributor in back to back playoff seasons in 2015 and 2016, the latter being a breakout season.

In 2016, Odor batted .271 and hit 33 homers and batted in 88 runs. Even with below average defense, the Rangers found themselves an everyday second baseman for the next several years. The Rangers followed Odor’s breakout season with a six-year, $49.5 million extension, along with a $13.5 million team option for 2023.

What has transpired after that is just….heartbreaking. Odor struggled terribly in the first year of his new contract, being the statistically worst second baseman in baseball. Then, 2018 started off  terribly also, and even saw Odor miss time due to an injury only 12 games into the season. Odor still struggled hitting the ball, until a massive explosion in July and August led all the Ranger faithful to believe Odor was possibly back. September of 2018 had a significant drop-off, but there was still some optimism going into 2019, especially with new management in place. And as we’ve seen this season, new manager Chris Woodward has been able to elevate some of the young players, specifically Joey Gallo.

Odor has not had the success we all hoped he would have. He’s still struggled all season long. He’s put together some nice games consecutively, then been unable to continue that pace and fall right back off again. On July 23rd, Odor’s batting average just pushed north of .200 for the first time since April 3rd.

There’s a lot to speculate when it comes to enigma that is Rougned Odor. But ultimately from my personal perspective, he’s a guy that enjoyed success doing things the way he’s comfortable doing. Obviously, Major League pitchers adjust, and you have to adjust your game with it. Odor hasn’t done that the way he’s needed to. Even in certain ways that he has adjusted, he’s been unable to recognize pitches, and that is a much larger cause for concern.

It’s painful to say, but it’s time to part ways with Rougned Odor. At the very least, he cannot be the starting second baseman in 2020. The Rangers have a couple of options for second base, whether that be asking Willie Calhoun to move back to second base or giving Danny Santana that everyday spot. Santana has earned an everyday position in 2020 (read more about it here). After 2019, the Rangers have at least three years and $31 million devoted to Rougie. It’s hard to ask a guy making that kind of money to ride the bench, especially when he’s not a utility player. The Rangers won’t cut him and they can’t send him to the minors without his permission because of his MLB service time.

If the Rangers move on from Rougie, the only way is to trade him. His value has never been lower and Texas would probably have to eat a certain amount of that contract just to move him. But with Santana earning the everyday role he deserves along with giving Willie Calhoun the shot he needs for his development (and confidence), there’s just no spot for a one-dimensional player on a team that should be trying to compete in 2020. It’s painful to write these words because I’ve really liked Rougie since 2015. I remember sitting at a Rangers vs. Astros game in Houston in 2015 where Rougie did this:

Followed by this:

I became a Rougie fan that night. That fight, that passion, that tenacity; it was so attractive from a young player. And then watching him blossom into a great major league player the following season was all the more satisfying.

His drop off has hurt so much in so many ways. I know he wants to be better. He’s a very competitive guy. But the Rangers have players that could step in and simply play better. And unfortunately, you have to look at things from the perspective of winning games. Otherwise, other guys could lose their jobs.

I hope Rougie proves me and so many others wrong, whether it be in a Texas uniform or any other one. I don’t want to root for the guy to fail. Not at all. I want him to succeed. But for the Rangers, this is when the rubber meets the road. If they are to compete in the near future, this version of Rougie can’t be a part of it.