The Yankees on Tuesday acquired second baseman Rougned Odor from the Texas Rangers for minor-league outfielders Antonio Cabello and Josh Stowers.
Odor, 27, is an all-or-nothing lefthanded hitter with prodigious power who was designated for assignment by Texas just before Opening Day. The Rangers were trying Odor at third base in spring training, but he has only played second in a seven-year big-league career.
The Yankees have DJ LeMahieu at second on a new six-year contract, so they are looking at Odor as a bat off the bench. Manager Aaron Boone called Odor’s talent "undeniable."
"Hopefully, we can help him get that talent out that we’ve seen flashed over the years," Boone said before the Yankees hosted the Orioles. "View him as a guy that can maybe move around a little bit . . . I think it was just a chance to add a talented guy to add some depth to our roster."
Boone said Odor will have to go through COVID-19 testing protocols and, once cleared, may report directly to the Yankees and bypass the alternate site even though he hasn’t played since spring training.
Where will Odor fit in? Once he’s ready, the Yankees could option Tyler Wade to the alternate site and use third baseman Gio Urshela as the backup at shortstop. Urshela started one game at short in spring training.
Odor hit at least 30 home runs in a season three times in his career, most recently in 2019. Once considered a rising star, the Rangers signed the Venezuelan to a six-year, $49.5 million contract extension after the 2016 season, when he hit .271 with 33 home runs, 88 RBIs and a .798 OPS — all career highs.
But Odor slumped all the way to a .167 average in 38 games in 2020, though he did hit 10 home runs and led Texas with 30 RBIs. The Rangers are expected to pay most of the two years and $27 million left on Odor’s contract.
Odor, who hit .200 in 35 spring training at-bats, lost his job to former Yankees draft pick Nick Solak.
Odor would appear to have a swing built for Yankee Stadium. But the Rangers lost patience with him. A big reason, apparently, is his lack of patience at the plate.
Before spring training, Rangers manager Chris Woodward told SI.com: "Obviously, we want to see production. I want to see a consistent [approach], pitch after pitch after pitch. Production means being able to take that breaking ball in the dirt. Being able to lay off that fastball with two strikes at the top of the zone. His swing, when I see his swing, is it loose or is he able to get off his 'A' swing? Is he able to stay in the strike zone? All those things are going to lead to more production and performance. And he's aware of that. He's very aware of that . . . If he doesn't perform, he knows the consequences. He knows he doesn't have as much leash as he had in the past."
Cabello, 20, played rookie ball in 2019. Stowers, 24, played in Single-A. Neither was on the Yankees’ 30 top prospects list as selected by MLB.com.
To make room for Odor on the 40-man roster, the Yankees designated infielder Thairo Estrada for assignment.