Rougned Odor fields ball

Odor trade could provide Yankees with low-cost lefty power

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The New York Yankees agreed a trade for Texas Rangers infielder Rougned Odor.

Odor’s salary will be covered by the Rangers, with the Yankees sending two prospects to Texas to acquire the homer-hitting infielder. Texas gets Minor League outfielders Antonio Cabello and Josh Stowers. The Yankees add infield depth, and a player with unquestionable upside.

Cabello is a 20-year-old, who was ranked in the top 20 in New York’s farm. Stowers is a 24-year-old outfielder. Cabello is clearly the more exciting prospect here, though Stowers could provide some useful Major League depth for the Rangers.

Crucially, Odor’s $27 million and two years on his contract will be paid by Texas. The Yankees are coughing up just the prorated minimum for Odor. The Rangers have effectively bought two prospects, while the Yankees have coughed up young players rather than be burdened with one of the worst contracts in baseball.

New York looking to manage payroll is hardly surprising. They are already paying some of MLB’s highest salaries. Going into the luxury tax for a player like Odor would have been a shock.

This trade in itself was a surprise, though. The Yankees have infield talent in DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres and Gio Urshela. Odor has been a below-average hitter for the vast majority of his Major League career. He doesn’t look like an impact player for a team with World Series ambitions.


Yankees take chance

Paying no more than the minimum, though, the Yankees can afford to see Odor as depth. He’s an upside flyer. The former Ranger hit 49 homers across his age-21 and age-22 campaigns in the middle of the last decade. Amid some ugly advanced numbers, the power tool remains. Odor was in the 79th percentile in barrel rate last season, and ranked in the top 8% in MLB in that category in 2019.

Perhaps Odor doesn’t see out the year on the Yankees. He’s a subpar defender who strikes out a lot and rarely walks.

A change of coaching staff and setting could do him good, though. Maybe the Yankees unlock something.

If he hits anything like he did in 2015 and 2016, this will have been a great trade for New York, an ideal lefty bat to supplement their right-hand-heavy offense.

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