Veteran Elvis Andrus was traded to Oakland Athletics on Saturday, just over two months after Texas Rangers announced that the lone remaining player would no longer be the regular after his only two World Series appearances in 12 seasons in the role.
Texas sent 32-year-old Andrus, catcher Aramis Garcia and $13.5 million for hitter Chris Davis, catcher John Heim and right-hander Dane Ecker.
“It was a bit of a shock at first, but at the same time I realized what was happening in our (Texas) organization, they are rebuilding and this process,” Andrus said. “When I found out I had the opportunity to play for Oakland, it made sense for me, for my career, for the situation I’m in right now.
Andrus is owed $14 million for each of the next two seasons. The $120 million contract he signed in 2015 also includes a $15 million option for 2023, which now becomes a player option thanks to the deal if he has 550 in 2022 or 1,100 combined innings in 2021-22.
The AL West “A” champions, who have made the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, recently lost shortstop Marcus Semien to Toronto in the free-agent game.
“Elvis will fit in very well with our players. He has a passion for defense, just like our other guys,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said by text message. “I’ve seen his leadership from the bench for 10 years.”
According to Ranger president Jon Daniels, the deal was discussed earlier in the winter and talks intensified over the past week. Daniels spoke Thursday night with Andrus, who could have vetoed a deal.
“From a career perspective, I think he understood right away,” Daniels said. “This is an opportunity for him to play shortstop…. And (he’s) confident that he can do that for a very good club.
The Rangers, who only participated in the World Series in 2010 and 2011, announced in December that third baseman Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who won the Golden Glove earlier this season, would turn 26 and have the opportunity to become their best shortstop. Andrus was then asked to prepare to play all positions on the field.
When Andrus made his MLB debut in 2009 at the age of 20, the Rangers replaced the then 32-year-old Michael Young with a third-baseman, having been an All-Star shortstop the previous five seasons. Young is still the team’s captain and Andrus is second in the number of games played, both at bat and in hat tricks. Young is also the career leader in at-bats and hitting points, while Andrus is third in both categories.
You are the forest.
You have been an essential part in the most successful years in franchise history. pic.twitter.com/VkkirbzO6K
– Texas Rangers (@Rangers) February 6, 2021
Andrus has a career batting average of 0.274, and the two-time All-Star is the only MLB player to have played at least 10 seasons of 145 or more games since his debut. But he reached just .194 last season, when he played only 29 games because of persistent lower back problems, and he says he’s not sure people realize how difficult it is to play in these conditions.
“I suffered a lot, I wasn’t physically ready,” he said. “Last year took a lot out of me. I don’t think the team liked what they saw and misunderstood me a little bit. At the end of the day, that’s something you can’t control as a player. You go in a different direction than I do now.
Davis, 33, led the majors with 48 home runs in 2018, but has struggled to find his offense since. Now he’s mostly a reserve, having been a left fielder in the past. In 938 big league games for the A’s (2016-20) and Milwaukee Brewers (2013-15), he hit .243 with 218 homers and 580 RBIs. Davis hit .271 with 15 doubles, 32 homers and 80 RBIs in 79 career games against Texas.
“Chris was very much appreciated by everyone here in Oakland, including myself,” Melvin said. “We wish him the best of luck in his new chapter of baseball.”
Davis, who signed for $16.75 million this season, is averaging 133 at-bats in 2019, after four consecutive odd years. In the 2020 season, shortened by the lockout, he played 30 games and hit .200 with two homers and 10 RBIs.
Heim, a 25-year-old switch-hitter, made his major league debut with the A’s in 2020 and hit .211 with five RBIs in 13 games. Acker was selected in the fourth round by the Oklahoma A’s last summer and was cut from the MLB draft.
Garcia, who was acquired from San Francisco in November via waiver request, missed the entire 2020 season to recover from hip surgery on the right side.
Last season the Rangers struggled from AL 22-38 and relied on younger players. They had three 22-year-old rookies in the starting lineup on the final day of the season, a decade after the first world series, when Andrus was very young.