ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The Texas Rangers are moving on from another piece of their past after informing Rouged Odor that he would no longer be part of the team.
Odor, the starting second baseman for seven seasons before being switched to third base this spring, was told Monday that there was no longer a spot for him to play every day and that he wouldn’t be on the opening-day roster. He will be designated for assignment unless the Rangers are able to work out a trade with another team, which is unlikely.
“It’s strictly a baseball move, and it’s more of an organizational move kind of forward,” manager Chris Woodward said. “Rougie’s a guy who always looked at himself as an everyday player, a potential superstar in his mind. And he’s had moments of that, especially early in his career. I don’t think it would be fair to him to put him a non-everyday role.”
The 27-year-old infielder has two more seasons and $24.6 million left on his six-year contract, and a $3 million buyout for a $13.5 million team option in 2023.
Jon Daniels, the team’s president of baseball operations, said veteran infielders Brock Holt, a free agent addition who grew up a Rangers fan, and Charlie Culberson had made the team after coming to camp as non-roster invitees. Nick Solak will be the starting second baseman.
The Rangers also said Monday that right-handed reliever Jose Leclerc will have Tommy John surgery and miss the entire season. Leclerc began 2019 as their closer before he was demoted after a rough opening month. He made only two appearances last year before getting sidelined for the rest of the 60-game season by a shoulder injury.
Odor’s pending departure comes only weeks after Texas traded Elvis Andrus to AL West rival Oakland. Andrus was the Rangers’ opening-day shortstop the past 12 seasons, and the only player remaining from their only two World Series teams (2010 and 2011).
The Rangers said in December that Isiah Kiner-Falefa, the AL Gold Glove-winning third baseman last season, would become their primary shortstop. They told Andrus then to prepare to play all four infield positions, and maybe be the starting third baseman, before trading him just before the start of spring training.
“I love Rougie and Elvis. They’re true professionals in every sense of the word. But it is kind of a new start to the guys that are in that locker room,” Woodward said. “I think they feel that, they understand that.”
Odor led Texas with 30 RBIs in 38 games during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, and matched Joey Gallo with a team-best 10 homers. But Odor hit only .167 overall, with seven of his 11 hits in September being homers, while striking out 47 times in 138 at-bats. He hit .205 in a full 2019 season.
In 858 games for the Rangers since his debut at age 20 in 2014, he hit .237 with 146 homers and 458 RBIs.
“At the end of the day, the reasons why we made the move, I felt like he understood. We tried to lay it out the best we could. He handled it like a pro,” Woodward said. “He’s honestly been a class act all spring. He’s fully done everything we’ve asked, playing third base, doing things that he was uncomfortable doing.”
One of Odor’s most memorable hits with Texas was when he punched Jose Bautista on the jaw during a game in 2016, the culmination of tensions between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Rangers stemming from their playoff series the previous season. Bautista had hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the deciding Game 5 of the AL Division Series, then admired the shot before he emphatically flipped his bat.
In that regular-season series finale the following May, Bautista made a hard takeout slide into second base. Odor responded with the punch that started a bench-clearing brawl.
AP Sports Writer Schuyler Dixon contributed.
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