Little did Jake Odorizzi know the trade was coming. But he suspected something was wrong after telling the Atlanta Braves he was picking up the $12.5 million option in his 2023 contract.
The Braves went a day and a half without even announcing that he had exercised the option.
“I thought maybe something was going on at that point,” Odorizzi said Monday in his first news conference with Dallas-Fort Worth media.
The Braves sent Odorizzi to the Rangers for a pitcher Kolby Allard, who previously played for Atlanta.
Odorizzi said he likes Atlanta but understands the team has a lot of pitching depth. He redeemed the financial protection option after a 2022 where he spent two months on the injured list and was dealt out to the Braves from Houston.
The Braves made the deal because they were locked into their rotation. To sweeten the deal with Texas, Atlanta took $10 million in salary.
Odorizzi ended up with an organization he was familiar with thanks to his time in the American League. He has spent most of his career in the AL, with stints in Kansas City, Tampa Bay, Minnesota and Houston. His path has crossed with Texas many times and is happy to pitch at Globe Life Field, a place he describes as “pitcher-friendly” in at least his experience.
“This is a great landing site,” said Odorizzi. “I have friends on the team. I have an ex-catcher on my coaching staff in Bobby Wilson. There are a lot of things here that make a lot of sense to me and I’m really, really happy to be a part of the organization.”
While in Minnesota, Odorizzi was a teammate with catcher Mitch Garver and pitcher Martín Pérez, who may return to the Rangers on a 2023 year-round offer sheet.
Better still, Odorizzi said the ankle injury that cost him two months is now behind him.
He combined 6-6 with a 4.40 ERA in 22 starts with Houston and Atlanta. He started the season with the Astros before competing on August 2. He also spent two months on the injured list with ailments in his lower left leg. Before the injury, he was 3-2 with a 3.13 ERA in seven starts.
He was a reliable, durable pitcher throughout his career. Odorizzi, 32, has a 74-69 record with a 3.99 ERA in 11 years. He was an All-Star in 2019 with Minnesota when he went 15-7 with a 3.51 ERA and a career-high 178 strikeouts. As of 2014, he’s ranked fifth in the majors in starts among right-handed pitchers.
If Rangers fulfill their aspirations to improve their free-hand starting rotation – a chase that could include Jacob deGrom and Carlos Rodon – Odorizzi may not be more than a fifth starter.
But a pitcher with his track record, combined with a park to pitch in, could allow him to get close to some of the best numbers of his career before he finds himself free again.
“It’s just a matter of recovery and takes an off-season to recover to get back to normal, but it feels great,” Odorizzi said. “Now I’ve already started training off-season.”
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard
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