When Rougned Odor returned from his seven-game suspension, the Texas Rangers faced a bit of a conundrum. Odor did not deserve to lose his job just because he threw a punch at Jose Bautista and was suspended for seven games, as he’s had a strong season thus far. But Jurickson Profar was so impressive during those seven games in which he was filling in for Odor that the Rangers couldn’t afford to take him out of the lineup.
The solution for Texas manager Jeff Banister, at least in the first two games Odor has played since returning from his suspension, has been playing Profar as the team’s designated hitter; and the move has been brilliant.
There was no reason to break up the middle infield combination of Odor and Elvis Andrus, especially with the Rangers in first place in the AL West, but they also had to keep Profar around after his exceptional play since getting called up. Making Profar the DH is the perfect solution to the problem, at least for the time being.
By doing this, not only are the Rangers able to keep Profar’s bat in the lineup, but they are also able to take out Prince Fielder, who has been an utter disappointment this year. Fielder has fallen flat on his face in 2016, which is not an ideal situation for a player making $24 million per year through the 2020 season. The Rangers could conceivably live with Fielder hitting just .187, but not if he’s only produced three home runs in nearly 200 at-bats this year. In the long run, they have to get Fielder going, but for the immediate future, Profar replacing him is an upgrade at DH for the Rangers.
Keeping Profar around for the immediate future, even if he’s the primary DH, will allow the Rangers to rotate Odor and Andrus out of the lineup when they need a day off in order to keep them fresh. Profar can also fill in for either in case of an injury, an extended slump, or if Odor decides to punch someone else. Profar may not be able to continue hitting at the same pace he has over the last nine games, but as long as he’s productive, there’s no reason to take him out of the lineup, regardless of whether he’s the DH or playing the infield.