ARLINGTON, Texas — Rougned Odor, the Texas Rangers’ starting second baseman over the past seven seasons, has been told he won’t be on the Opening Day roster after switching to third base this spring, the team said Monday.
The Rangers also announced Monday that former closer Jose Leclerc will undergo Tommy John surgery.
President of baseball operations Jon Daniels said the Rangers don’t have an every-day role for Odor. The 27-year-old infielder has two more seasons and $24.6 million left on his six-year contract, as well as a $3 million buyout for a $13.5 million team option in 2023.
“I think really what it came down to was we’ve made a decision, obviously a pretty clear direction looking towards the future. And playing him every day was not in our plans this year,” Daniels said. “As we look forward, we think we’re going to have some younger players coming up. And we didn’t think it was in his best interest or our best interest to kind of force the issue into a bench role.”
The Rangers didn’t immediately designate Odor for assignment, with the team exploring a possible trade before having to officially submit its roster before Thursday’s season opener. Daniels said he wasn’t necessarily expecting to find a fit for a trade and that the team didn’t ask Odor about going to the minor leagues.
“It’s strictly a baseball move, and it’s more of an organizational move kind of forward,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “Rougie’s a guy who always looked at himself as an every-day 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 in a non-every-day role.”
Daniels said veteran infielders Brock Holt, who grew up a Rangers fan, and Charlie Culberson would both make the team after coming to camp as non-roster invitees. Nick Solak will be the starting second baseman.
As for Leclerc, general manager Chris Young told reporters that the Rangers support his decision to have the surgery. Leclerc began experiencing soreness in his right elbow last week and returned to Texas to be examined by team physician Dr. Keith Meister.
“We certainly support that decision and are disappointed to lose Jose. We hate that he’s going through this injury. It’s a big loss for our club. But nonetheless, we look forward to getting Jose healthy and then hopefully back some point next year,” Young said, according to a report by MLB.com.
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, with seven of his 11 hits in September being homers, and struck out 47 times in 138 at-bats. He hit .205 in a full 2019 season. In 858 games for the Rangers since his debut 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 of Odor. “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.”
Leclerc had a breakout season in 2018, when he had a 1.56 ERA in 57⅔ innings and saved 12 games. In total, he had 26 saves between the 2018 and 2019 seasons. He began the 2020 season as the Texas closer, before he was demoted after a rough opening month. He made only two appearances before getting sidelined for the rest of the 60-game season by a shoulder injury.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.