DALLAS (105.3 The Fan) - The Rangers are moving on from Elvis Andrus as their starting shortstop and will replace him with Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Rangers general manager and president of baseball operations Jon Daniels said Tuesday.
Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News was the first to report the news earlier today.
Andrus has been the club's shortstop for the last 12 seasons, but his struggles at the plate, from a position that is generating a lot more offense these days, is just not enough to keep him on the field in an everyday role.
The 32-year-old is signed through 2022 and will earn $28 million guaranteed over the next two seasons. Could the club look to move him in a salary dump? Perhaps. But Andrus has a right to veto any deal due to his tenure in the game.
So, for now, Andrus will operate as the Rangers utility infielder next season, per Daniels.
105.3 The Fan's Jared Sandler said on the G-Bag Nation Tuesday that Andrus hasn't requested a trade out of Texas and is looking to prove Daniels and Woodward wrong for demoting him to a utility role.
The move clears the way for Rangers top prospect Josh Jung to take over third base at some point in the 2021 season.
As for Kiner-Falefa, he moves over to short after he won the Rawlings Gold Glove award at third base in 2020.
Kiner-Falefa had the best defensive wins above replacement among all third basemen in the American league this past season and had the seventh-best fielding percentage at .957.
Grant reports that the 25-year-old will have one season to prove he can provide an offensive punch at the position in order for the club to determine whether or not they'll dive into the very talented free agent pool of shortstops that are set to hit the market after next season. Those players include Javier Báez, Francisco Lindor, Trevor Story, Corey Seager and Carlos Correa.
Some of you may now be asking yourselves this question: What about Rougned Odor?
Daniels said the club has communicated to Odor to be prepared to play other positions, as well. But the battle for second base will likely come down to him vs Nick Solak.
You can hear Sandler's thoughts on that position battle here.