Assuming you've read the title of this article -- and if you're here, there's a better than decent chance that you have -- you already know the direction I'm heading with this. So, don't call for the lynch mob. At least not yet. Hear me out.
The Texas Rangers should absolutely consider trading Rougned Odor. Right now.
Of course, they should be sure to get the right trade partner to maximize the value, but it's something the front office should consider.
In 2016, Odor saw both his popularity and his power surge. After a 2015 season that saw him surge after a stint back in the minors, he entered 2016 with a bang. Quite literally, his right hook to Jose Bautista was something resembling monumental, and immediately made him a fan-favorite. Combine that with the 33 home runs he hit, and we're talking about a player that it's not exactly popular to say should be traded. At least not since he's under club control through 2020.
But really, that's precisely what might make him a valuable commodity on the trade market. By this point, we realize that Rougie will hit home runs. That's also valuable on the trade market. And in reality, the Rangers already have a replacement on the roster. His name is Jurickson Profar.
Profar, for his part, has had something of a tumultuous career. Once the top prospect in baseball only a year after the previous top prospect became the top player in baseball, Profar came up with lofty expectations, and immediately suffered setback after setback. In 2013, he was a man without a position in Ron Washington's scheme. When the Rangers made room for him by trading Ian Kinsler, he got hurt. By the time he got back onto the field in 2016, Rougned Odor had already entrenched himself as "the guy" at second base.
Even after a torrid start that saw him put up a wRC+ of 121 in the first half of the season, he ran into a wall in the second half, posting a wRC+ of 44. Even still, all indications from baseball people who are way smarter than myself seem to be that Profar's "tools" are all intact. That is, bat speed, contact ability, and plate discipline.
Those last two are a major point of emphasis for me. Even as Odor swatted 33 home runs, he was dead last among all qualifying hitters in baseball in walk rate (3.0%) in 2016. His sub-.300 on-base percentage also left something to be desired. Combine that with porous defense at a premium infield position, and we're talking about a player who is, at the very least, mildly overrated.
Going back to Profar, I'd be inclined to believe that his 2016 production is probably his absolute floor as far as future value goes. Having missed two full seasons of baseball, being called into Major League action earlier than the Rangers had originally intended, I think many of us expected him to eventually run into a wall. Maybe not to such the extreme that he did, but that expectation was still there. And now, with a season under his belt, you're looking at player that still presumably has the assets that had scouts raving about him three or four years ago.
Even after running into that wall, Profar's OBP and walk rates were both significantly higher while also keeping his strikeouts lower. No, Profar may never quite approach 30 home runs, but he can more than make up for it with superior on-base skills and defense. Much like pitchers and strikeouts, those two are perhaps the hardest for a player to improve. By the time you've reached the highest level of the game, you've either got it or you don't. Any improvement in that area isn't likely to be significant, especially with the plate discipline.
Another important factor to consider is that, should the Rangers choose to do so, Profar could actually be cheaper to extend long-term. Odor's agent reportedly turned down a six-year, $35 million offer back in July, and it's not unreasonable to think that Texas could get Profar extended through, say 2021 or 2022 at around $6 million or so a season.
Doing an incremental analysis of the situation, even in the worst-case scenario, you're not looking at much of a production dip by playing Jurickson Profar over Rougned Odor. At best, Profar's contact rate goes up and he ends up providing additional value.
Home runs are amazing. They're fun to watch and when they come at the end of the game, they're even more spectacular. And yet, OBP is the driving force behind the best offensive players. It's Mike Trout's .441 OBP that made him such a threat rather than his 29 home runs. In that same line of thinking, an eye-popping career .444 OBP was what made Barry Bonds so versatile and dangerous beyond just home runs. It's why in his age-42 season, he was still dangerous with a .480 OBP in 2007.
Saying all that, if Texas can headline a package with Odor in exchange for a starting pitcher that could be considered even a number two, they can potentially set themselves up for success not only now, but beyond 2017, when Yu Darvish is expected to be pitching elsewhere.
And while it might not be all that popular among fans, it's an idea the Rangers should absolutely explore if the right move is on the table.