Texas Rangers to Focus on Youth at Expense of Notable Veterans

The Texas Rangers continue to shift their focus to youth for the remainder of the season which will come at the expense of long-time veterans.

With the 2020 season lost from a playoff perspective, the Texas Rangers have recognized their need to evaluate their future talent. That means finding ways to embrace young players and get them big league experience ahead of the 2021 season when they might take on more pronounced roles. However, playing the kids means taking away playing time from those players who offer less long-term value to the club.

Two long-time stalwarts of the Rangers’ organization are the most notable to lose out on playing time with Rougned Odor and Elvis Andrus to become role players rather than everyday starters moving forward. Throughout Texas’ current phase where they’ve attempted to accelerate their contending window, Odor and Andrus have remained regular starters despite struggles but moving forward, they’ll lose out on playing time to up and comers like Nick Solak, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Anderson Tejeda.

Odor and Andrus’ struggles have been well documented, particularly this year. Odor, who has been a player of contention among Rangers’ fans for a couple of seasons has finally seen his struggles at the plate come to a head. Through 22 games Odor is hitting just .150 and has a wRC+ of just 17 with a  -0.8 fWAR. The 2020 season for Odor has been another tally pushing to end his time with Texas that started with such potential.

In his first three seasons in the Majors, Odor posted 1.0, 2.5 and 2.5 fWAR seasons respectively. That earned him a six-year, $49.5 million contract extension prior to the 2017 season. Since that extension though, Odor’s production has taken a serious hit with his only truly productive season over the past four years coming during the 2018 campaign.

Andrus’ struggles for production have not been quite as pronounced but have slowly started to escalate over the past few seasons. Elvis has never had a year with a negative fWAR but in 2020, he’s on pace to break that 11-year streak with a -0.5 fWAR through 25 games. Andrus is hitting .180 in 96 plate appearances with a .590 OPS and a career worst 29 wRC+.

Andrus signed an eight-year, $120 million extension after the 2014 season which was his sixth consecutive season of at least 1.5 fWAR. Since that extension his production has been up and down with his best production years coming in 2016 and 2017 when he hit .302 and .297 respectively. Since that 2017 year though, Andrus has seen his production tick down and now having just turned 32, it seems like the beginning of the end of the Andrus era in Texas.

The unfortunate position for the Rangers with both Odor and Andrus is that they are still under contract for at least two more seasons. Odor is owed $27 million over the next two seasons including his $3 million buyout for the 2023 season which is likely to be taken up. Meanwhile Andrus is owed $28 million in base salary for 2021 and 2022 with a vesting option for the 2023 season at $15 million. While he’s unlikely to hit that vesting option which requires either 550 plate appearances in 2022 or 1100 between 2021-22, he still eats up a significant portion of the Rangers’ budget.

Odor, who is currently on the IL, is facing being benched for really the first time in his career in favor of likely Nick Solak. Texas has been looking for ways to get Solak consistent playing time and he’s bounced around positionally a bit but second base looks like a good fit. Meanwhile, Andrus out of the starting lineup opens up time for Anderson Tejeda to get regular playing time after he made his big league debut earlier this season. It also allows Texas to slide Isiah Kiner-Falefa over if they want to get a look at some of their third base prospects, most likely Sherten Apostel.

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