Here’s a friendly reminder of the financial commitments the Texas Rangers have for their two middle infielders:
Second baseman Rougned Odor is owed $36 million over the next three seasons.
Shortstop Elvis Andrus is owed $43 million, also over the next three seasons.
Asked on Friday how much contracts factor into a player’s place in the lineup, general manager Jon Daniels gave two answers, both of them a surprise.
“I don’t think there’s a set rule for that,” Daniels said. “Contracts are not really looked at when we look at what individual people can improve upon. It plays a role, but more whether he’s on the team than in the lineup.”
And, later: “A contract is financial security. Performance is job security.”
That goes for everyone, Daniels included. In particular, though, it would apply to Odor and Andrus and a potential loss of playing time in 2020.
Odor’s struggles have been magnified again this season. He entered Saturday’s game against the Oakland A’s in the midst of an 0-for-14 skid that dropped his batting average to an MLB-worst .201.
He leads the Rangers in strikeouts, 167 of them, and for the second straight season has been a liability stealing bases.
His saving grace is that he leads the Rangers with 27 home runs and 81 RBIs, has a career-high 47 walks, and a .452 slugging percentage percentage. His OPS is .703, below the league average but 11 points higher than Andrus.
Andrus, in his 11th season, is batting .271 but with only a .309 on-base percentage and .383 slugging percentage. Relative to his career averages, he’s hovering around par.
The Rangers, though, saw him post consecutive seasons with an OPS above .800 in 2016 and 2017, the best season of his career, before a broken arm early last season cost him two months and lingered longer.
Daniels said that competition next spring would serve Andrus well. He’s never had that in his career. The Rangers aren’t going to sign Didi Gregorius, but perhaps Danny Santana is told he has a chance to win the job.
“They don’t need to push me,” Andrus said Saturday. “I know what I need to do and what condition I coming for next year. They can do that. I’m always going to be respectful for any challenge in my life, but it’s personal now. It’s something I’ve started taking personally, and believe me, I’ll be ready to go.”
Manager Chris Woodward remains a staunch supporter of Odor, who could be feeling heat from the hot start Nick Solak has had to his MLB career. Woodward said Odor continues to adapt to the new data the Rangers have presented to him, but the results have been lacking.
If current trends continue, though, Odor stands to lose playing time. After a year with some extra consideration given to learning the new process, that will change in 2020. The players know it.
“I don’t think I’m ever going to pull the plug,” Woodward said. “They’ll know why if I ever have to make a decision or a move to make changes. I have given guys a little bit of rope this year, probably not as much next year when it comes to the buy-in.”