There's nothing like a good cliffhanger.
One of my all time favorite shows, Lost, was chock-full of them.
"What's in the hatch?!"
"Kate, dammit, run!"
"WE HAVE TO GO BACK!"
Forget season-ending cliffhangers. Nearly every episode had you ripping your hair out, having to wait another week for answers. A good cliffhanger grabs you by your heartstrings and never ceases to loosen its grip until the next season, or episode, begins.
I don't think Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward intended to leave us all dangling when he declined to provide any certainty regarding Rougned Odor's spot on the Opening Day roster. Nevertheless, it's going to have fans constantly refreshing their Twitter feeds until the Rangers finalize their 26-man roster on Thursday morning.
Instead, a noncommittal statement on Odor signifies something larger at work: The Rangers are setting a new precedent.
At the time of writing, we still don't know if Rougned Odor will be making the trip to Kansas City or not. He very well could be on the Opening Day roster. After all, he has enough service time to refuse an outright assignment to the minor leagues. If he refused, he would have to stay on the 26-man roster or he can elect free agency.
The Rangers owe Odor more than $27 million over the next two years. That money is guaranteed, no matter what.
That's why people like me were automatically penciling in Odor in our Opening Day roster projections. There's no way the Rangers eat $27 million. And they still may not.
However, the Rangers showed earlier this year that they are ready to move on. They said goodbye to one of the all-time Rangers fan-favorites in Elvis Andrus when they traded him to the Oakland Athletics. The Rangers even ate a chunk of that salary to move him.
That doesn't mean the Rangers didn't like Elvis. You don't have to be a brain surgeon to understand how much Elvis was revered in that clubhouse. He earned — and deserved — all the respect that was due him.
Rather, the move signified that the best era of Texas Rangers baseball is in the past. No more remaining members of the 2010-2011 American League championship teams. It was a great run that nearly resulted in the club's first World Series win.
But that was nearly ten years ago. It's time to move on.
That brings us to Rougned Odor.
Fans have had no problem lashing out about their frustrations with Odor. In 384 games prior to signing his six-year contract, he slashed .265/.302/.464 (.766 OPS), with 58 home runs and 197 RBI. In the 474 games since, he's slashed .215/.279/.418 (.697 OPS) with 88 home runs and 261 RBI. A significant drop-off in production and, at times, wild inconsistency has driven the majority of the fan base to a point of no return.
Declining to name the Rangers' second-highest paid player to the Opening Day roster is more than noteworthy.
Maybe the Rangers have reached their wits' end as well.
If you look back, the wheels have been in motion toward this for several months. Chris Woodward announced that Odor was stripped of his "everyday status" in early September last year. President of baseball operations Jon Daniels followed that up near the end of the season, re-emphasizing that Odor's starting spot was not guaranteed heading into 2021.
In addition, the Rangers stripped Odor's regular position, asking him to come into camp ready and willing to play positions other than second base; primarily taking on the challenge at third base.
However, Rangers fans have seen Odor get a long leash in the past. Even after Woodward denounced Odor's everyday status, he penciled him into the starting lineup 16 times — all at second base — in the final 19 games of the season after returning from an eye infection.
This leads us to now. Even after a spring where Odor "fully embraced" playing third base, and showed relatively well over there, Chris Woodward won't definitively say Odor is on the Opening Day roster.
In a spring where Rangers management stated roster decisions would not be solely base on spring stats (.200/.300/.400, two home runs, five RBI in 40 plate appearances) and Chris Woodward detailed some signs of growth in his approach at the plate, he won't definitively say Odor is on the Opening Day roster.
Like the ending of Lost, and how the survivors of Oceanic 815 moved on (SPOILER ALERT), how the Rangers move on from Rougned Odor will likely not sit well with a large portion of the fan base. The relationship may not end until the Rangers buy out Odor's contract after the 2022 season for $3 million. It may end this week.
But Chris Woodward's words carry significant weight that the end may be sooner than we expected.