It’s almost not worth even looking at the list of free agent second basemen because the Rangers are locked and loaded at that position. Anyway, here are the available second basemen, with their ages in parenthesis:
Joaquin Arias (31)
Mike Aviles (35)
Emilio Bonifacio (31)
Stephen Drew (33)
Jonathan Herrera (31)
Maicer Izturis (35)
Howie Kendrick (32)
Daniel Murphy (31)
Steve Pearce (33)
Cliff Pennington (32)
Sean Rodriguez (31)
Kelly Johnson (34)
Skip Schumaker (36)
Chase Utley (37)
Ben Zobrist (35)
In his second big league season, Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor actually played two seasons last year. One was lousy. One was phenomenal.
In April and May, he hit .144, with just thirteen hits. At the plate, he looked like a blind boxer, swinging wildly at pitches that were nowhere near the strike zone. Often he swung when the ball was still in the pitcher’s hands. One time he struck out in the on-deck circle, he was swinging so wildly. Pitchers were carving him up as if his 2014 out-of-nowhere success was a fluke.
Then he was sent down.
Then he came back.
Then Rougned Odor was an offensive force. He hit .391 in June, .319 in July, and .310 in August. He hit fifteen home runs and drove in 52. And, according to Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News, his OPS tied Carlos Correa and was better than Francisco Lindor, the probable Rookie of the Year winner and runner up. As Grant points out, Odor, at 21, is only six months older than Correa and just six months younger than Lindor .
What that means is, Odor is good, young, and looks to only get better. So any talk of free-agent second basemen for the Rangers seems years away. Especially when, just for good measure, Jurickson Profar finally appears to be back on the track that had him the number-one prospect in baseball a few years ago. He hasn’t played in the field for two years, so his bat is much further along than his glove. Although he lost so many seasons, he lost them young. He’s only 23.
Even so, since this is an exercise in looking at free agents, here we go:
TOP OF EVERYONE’S LIST.
If for some reason the Rangers were looking, Ben Zobrist would be at the top of their list. In the textbook example of supply and demand, there is only one of him and there are thirty teams whose list he is at the top of. He would instantly improve any team with his versatility, peskiness (he had 91 RBIs a few seasons ago) and his unwillingness to strike out. He could make a huge impact with the Rangers. But not at second. Zobrist made just $2.8 million in 2015. He will make considerably more in 2016.
ALWAYS UNDER THE RADAR.
Howie Kendrick rolls out of bed and gets two doubles every game. Or so it seems. Maybe it’s because he has hit more home runs, and driven in more runs, against the Rangers than against any other team. But he is the kind of top-of-the-lineup guy who gets on and moves runners over and makes things happen. He will find plenty of suitors this winter. One of them will not be Texas.
Daniels Murphy hit the lottery last month with his string of six home runs in six consecutive playoff games. Here’s a guy who averages eleven home runs a season and he got half that in one week. But baseball gives and baseball takes away. And his Andrusian glovework at second base in Games 4 and 5 of the World Series took away. Still, he will find someone to pile on many more millions than the $8 million he made this year. He’s a good but not great player who played great when it was a really good time to.
So, to recap, Rougned Odor will be just 22 when the season starts, and will have had two major league seasons worth of seasoning to go on. Look for a breakout year from Odor. The guy is fearless, plays hard, and hasn’t seen an obstacle he won’t knock down.
Second base in Arlington seems to be Odor’s for quite a while.