It’s safe to say that when Rougned Odor was designated for assignment by the Texas Rangers at the end of March, almost no one expected the Yankees to be interested. Fast-forward one week, and Odor is in the organization thanks to a trade that will keep all of the monetary burden on the Rangers.
At first glance, Odor is simultaneously a welcome addition and a strange fit. The Yankees had a clear lack of MLB-ready middle infielders on the depth chart below their starters, with Tyler Wade filling in as the backup on the 26-man roster and Thairo Estrada the immediate understudy. Derek Dietrich is still with the team after failing to make the roster in spring, but hasn’t shown enough to warrant being ahead of either Wade or Estrada (and that’s a low bar). The team has plenty of promising middle infield prospects down the pipeline — but none of them have much, or any, experience in the upper levels of the minor leagues, and a season lost to the pandemic hasn’t helped their development.
In this regard, it makes perfect sense to grab Odor for the price of two prospects stuck in the lower levels of the minors — essentially lottery tickets. However, there’s the matter of Odor’s play itself. While he was once a promising bat in the core of the Rangers’ lineup, those days are long gone. Odor might still be able to hit his share of long balls, but despite that skill, he has remained below-average at the plate in each of the last four seasons, and three of the four were significantly atrocious. He’s still young — he’s entering his age-27 season despite seven years in the majors — but he’s played enough games to show that this is far from a slump or a single bad season. He has plenty of flaws at the plate.