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Woodward suggests Odor’s spot not safe

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In the final Zoom call before the Rangers leave Surprise, Chris Woodward refused to commit to Rougned Odor being on the Opening Day roster

Los Angeles Dodgers v Texas Rangers
Is the Rougned Odor Era coming to an end?
Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images

Rougned Odor has been penciled in as the Texas Rangers’ third baseman since early on in the spring, when he showed he could play a competent defensive third base. While Brock Holt was signed by the Rangers to a minor league deal with the belief that he was the leading candidate to be the team’s third baseman to start the year, once Odor didn’t embarrass himself at the hot corner, the assumption seems to have been that he’s on the team to start the year.

Apparently that’s not necessarily the case.

Per the beat guys, in the final Zoom call between manager Chris Woodward and the media, when asked if Odor was going to be on the Opening Day roster, Woodward replied, “I can’t definitively say that.” He said final roster decisions have not been made.

This would be a less notable non-answer had it not already been reported that a number of players who were actually fighting for roster spots — guys like Brock Holt, Ronald Guzman, Eli White, Josh Sborz, John King and Matt Bush, to name a half dozen — have been told they’ve made the team. If those guys have made the team, but Woodward can’t definitively say Odor has, that would seem to cast some pretty significant doubt over whether Odor actually will be on the roster.

The assumption has been that one can identify the players — including Odor — who seemed to have roster spots locked up, add to them the players who have been informed that (barring something exceptional) they are making the team, and determine there is only one open roster spot on the Opening Day roster available. That spot has been viewed as being down to Adolis Garcia, Charlie Culberson, Hunter Wood, Hyeon-jong Yang, and possibly Luis Ortiz (the pitcher, not the hitting coach). However, if Odor is out, that would seem to indicate that Holt is playing third base, Culberson makes the team as the utility infielder, and there’s still one roster spot open.

That roster spot will be filled by Willie Calhoun when he is activated from the injured list, which is expected to be a week to ten days after the start of the year, so I don’t know if you would want to add someone like Garcia, who cleared waivers and was outrighted just six weeks ago, to the 40 man roster so he can be active for that short a period of time just to turn around and option him. It would seem more likely to me, on the outside, that they use that final roster spot on some rando they grab on waivers when teams make their final cuts, and then look to run through waivers and outright when Calhoun is back.

Or maybe Brett Martin, who has been said to be expected to start the season on the injured list, will actually start the year on the active roster. He pitched today, which means, I believe, he cannot be put on the injured list retroactive to any point prior to today, which means he would not be eligible to return until...April 12, I think? (ed. note — it appears that pitchers can be on the i.l. for 10 days again this year, due to COVID-19, which would mean April 7). In any case, Martin today and on March 25, and I’m finding myself questioning why he would start the year on the injured list. They may feel he can’t pitch back to back days yet, but I’m not sure that would prevent them from carrying him.

Odor has not had one of his traditional great springs, slashing .212/.316/.424 before today’s 0 for 2, and it isn’t as if, even if he hits, he’s viewed as the future at third base — whoever has the job is basically keeping the position warm until Josh Jung is ready (and he has to get healthy first, of course, since he had a screw inserted in his foot and won’t be playing again until early May). If the team has decided that there’s no future in Odor, they may feel it makes more sense to cut the cord now. Or they may be seeing if there’s a bad contract swap available out there they can do.

Anyway...this is something to keep a close watch on.