Shortstop Elvis Andrus is one of multiple high-profile Rangers hitters to endure disappointing seasons. The low-value performances of Andrus, second baseman Rougned Odor and outfielder Nomar Mazara have put forth at least partially explain why the Rangers are on their way to a third straight sub-.500 campaign. No member of the trio entered the year with more at stake financially than Andrus, who could have seriously considered opting out of his contract with a highly productive 2019. Now, though, it would be a major surprise to see Andrus vacate the remaining three years and $43MM on the eight-year, $120MM extension he signed with Texas in 2013.
With Andrus looking likely to stay put, Rangers brass is seeking bigger contributions from the 31-year-old moving forward. The club may even push Andrus to improve by making him compete for playing time, which GM Jon Daniels and manager Chris Woodward suggested to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News could happen.
“I think [competition] would be healthy,” Daniels said. “Elvis has got to perform at a higher level. He’s capable of more and we need more.”
Woodward echoed Daniels, noting, “He knows he has to be better,” and adding that no player “is immune from [reduced roles] if they are not producing.”
Andrus did produce during the first half of the season, but like his once-contending team, he has fallen off dramatically as 2019 has progressed. After slashing .303/.339/.453 before the All-Star break, Andrus’ line has dipped to .230/.271/.293 since mid-July. At the same time, his batting average on balls in play has plummeted from .338 to .261, while his isolated power mark has sunk from .150 to a punchless .063. He’s now on the verge of logging his second consecutive well-below-average offensive campaign (though last year’s was limited by injury), having hit .272/.310/.385 (74 wRC+) with 10 home runs and 28 steals on 36 attempts over 609 plate appearances. Meantime, per Defensive Runs Saved (minus-6) and Ultimate Zone Rating (plus-1.1), Andrus has been a mixed bag in the field.
If Andrus’ season ended now, he’d set a new career low with 1.1 fWAR. Ergo, even though Andrus is due $15MM next year, it’s understandable that the Rangers don’t want to hand him a No. 1 job then. The same applies to his double-play partner, Odor, another well-compensated Ranger who has frustrated the team’s higher-ups.
Utilityman Danny Santana could push Andrus and-or Odor for playing time next year (Grant specifically mentions him as potential competition for Andrus), though it’s difficult to forecast without first seeing how the Rangers’ offseason shakes out. The club’s infield figures to be one of its primary focuses over the winter, as Texas has received less-than-stellar overall production from all of those spots. Santana and late-season call-up Nick Solak are the only players in the bunch who have produced to acceptable levels at the plate.