Seager in contract year: 'Focus is right now'
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager is entering the last year of his contract, but he said Thursday that his focus in 2021 is on trying to help the Dodgers win back-to-back World Series and won’t discuss his conversations with the team publicly.
“The focus is right now,” Seager said. “We’ve preached this for a long time now that it’s day to day. We’re showing up and we’re doing everything we can to be ready today, and once the game starts, trying to win a game that day. It’s no thinking other than that.”
If the Dodgers and Seager don’t come to an agreement on an extension at some point this season, the 2020 World Series MVP will be part of a free-agent class that is star-studded at the shortstop position. The Astros’ Carlos Correa, the Cubs’ Javier Báez, the Mets’ Francisco Lindor and the Rockies’ Trevor Story are some of the other headliners scheduled to be free agents in the offseason. Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr. might’ve set the bar at the position, signing a 14-year, $340 million deal with San Diego last week.
“It’s never been about that,” Seager said, when asked about his next contract. “It’s always about showing up that day and doing what you can to help your team. I don’t want the extra effort to have to talk about that in the media. I just want to go out and do my job and let the chips fall.”
Signing Seager this year could be tricky for the Dodgers, who enter Spring Training with roughly $254 million committed to the roster, by far the highest mark in the Majors, and more than $40 million over the Competitive Balance Tax.
This offseason, Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen and Chris Taylor also are scheduled to become free agents, which should clear up nearly $60 million. The Dodgers will surely look to keep Kershaw, but they also have interest in locking up young stars such as Cody Bellinger and Walker Buehler.
The Dodgers won’t be afraid to spend money -- they certainly proved that this offseason -- but things could get complicated if Seager gets a lucrative offer elsewhere.
When healthy, Seager is one of the best offensive shortstops in the Majors. He won the National League Rookie of the Year Award in 2016 after hitting 26 home runs and finishing with an .877 OPS. He had another strong season in ‘17, but was forced to miss most of the ‘18 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Seager was again solid at the plate when he returned in ‘19. Then in ‘20, Seager had his breakout season. The 26-year-old hit 15 home runs and drove in 41 runs in just 52 games. He finished in the 97th percentile in average exit velocity, and his hard-hit rate was in the 98th percentile. His .943 OPS was second in the Majors among shortstops, behind Washington’s Trea Turner (.982).
But as good as Seager was during the regular season, he really came on in the postseason, hitting eight home runs and winning the MVP in both the NL Championship Series and World Series.
“The easy answer is yes, if you look at what he can do when he’s healthy,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, when asked if that type of production is the expectation for Seager.
“I just like to be of the mind that we want him healthy and want him out there every day, and all those numbers will sort of play themselves out,” Roberts said. “I know that when he’s out here, and he’s healthy, he helps us win baseball games.”