It only took one game for Rougned Odor to make himself feel at home with his new team.
When the New York Yankees traded for the former Texas Rangers slugger last week, the move didn’t exactly receive applause from the fan base. It was met with more confusion than anything.
“Um … sure? But isn’t this just adding a redundant player? And we better not be taking on all of his salary!”
It certainly wasn’t out of the question to think that way, but it appears general manager Brian Cashman had the right idea when he made this deal.
The early returns are encouraging. Despite a 1-for-5 day in his debut against the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday, Odor made that “one” count. It was a go-ahead RBI single with two outs in extra innings, which helped the team snap a three-game skid.
He worked the count and fought off an inside strike to lift the ball into center field. He’s already in Yankees fans’ good graces.
The Rougned Odor trade could pay big dividends for the Yankees.
Then, on Monday night, he broke up Robbie Ray’s no-hitter, which lasted into the fifth inning. He ripped a single past Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., which opened the door for Kyle Higashioka’s go-ahead two-run homer. Odor finished the night 1-for-3 with a run scored in the 3-1 victory.
The Yankees are 2-0 with him in the starting lineup.
At this point, the only thing that’s a bit of a concern is his new look now that he’s had to shave his beard.
Seriously, who is that?
But there are two other important factors that make him worthwhile to this current Yankees’ roster. The obvious one is his potential. Yes, he might be another three-true-outcome bat in a lineup seemingly full of them, but he’s got three 30-homer seasons under his belt. And he’s only 27 years old. And the team can control him through the 2023 season. Surround him with some of the game’s best hitters and that bat can be unlocked once again.
The other? He makes it easier for manager Aaron Boone to shift around the infield while putting out the best lineup possible. Gone (for now) are the days of Tyler Wade filling in for defensive purposes and bobbling routine grounders while providing negative offense. Perhaps we’re beginning to see the last of Jay Bruce at first base (which hasn’t really worked out both offensively or defensively).
We’d much rather see DJ LeMahieu, if he’s moving off second base, at first rather than third, which is what we’ve gotten over the last two games. And don’t forget Luke Voit will need to be eased into action when he returns from knee surgery in mid-May. Odor’s presence buys the Yankees time with a lineup that can still strike fear into opponents — and one in which they won’t have to sacrifice one aspect of the game for another.
Odor, at the end of the day, is the best combination of Wade and Bruce. He’s provides aggressive lefty bat that can hit for power, he can play reliable middle infield defense, and he can move on the base paths. Don’t be shocked if we’re discussing this trade favorably come October.