Rangers officially sign Seager to 10-year deal

December 1st, 2021

ARLINGTON -- Two decades ago, the Rangers shocked the baseball world and broke the bank for a superstar free-agent shortstop named Alex Rodriguez.

Texas has done it once again, securing its middle infield for the foreseeable future after announcing a 10-year deal with shortstop on Wednesday, the same day it announced a seven-year deal with infielder Marcus Semien. Seager's contract is worth $325 million and includes a limited no-trade clause, a source told MLB.com.

Seager, 27, was the MVP of the 2020 World Series and NLCS, both of which were held at Globe Life Field in a bubble due to the coronavirus pandemic. During the ‘20 postseason, he led the Dodgers to a World Series victory, posting a slash line of .328/.425/.746 (1.171 OPS).

But while the Seager deal is a blockbuster comparable to the Rodriguez signing, there’s a notable difference. In 2001, the Rangers' front office didn’t surround Rodriguez with talent to succeed. Though Rodriguez dominated in his three years in Arlington, including winning an American League MVP in ‘03, the Rangers finished under .500 in each of those seasons.

But president of baseball operations Jon Daniels and general manager Chris Young were determined to make this go-round different. It’s paid off big so far, with the Rangers also reportedly adding right-hander Jon Gray on a four-year deal in addition to Seager and Semien.

“The size of the contract that was given to Alex at the time, that wasn't so much the issue,” Daniels said at the Rangers' end-of-season press conference. “It was that it was not consistent with the rest of the plan. There was not a continuing commitment to be able to build, whether that was to promote young players and develop them or to be able to add other key players externally. That didn’t really happen.

“We're not looking to solve one player to be the finishing piece. But we're looking for players that can be part of helping to turn this around and really launch us to where we want to go and also that can help our young players develop as they get up here.”

Seager notably has history with Rangers manager Chris Woodward, who was the Dodgers' third-base coach from 2016-18. Woodward, whom Texas recently extended through the 2023 season, emphasized how important it was to have a united front with the coaching staff and front office heading into free agency.

Seager will also reunite with newly hired Rangers hitting coach Tim Hyers, who was the Dodgers' assistant hitting coach from 2016-17. Hyers and offensive coordinator Donnie Ecker have been in the process of overhauling the Rangers’ offensive processes.

Seager, who turns 28 in April, could alone be exactly the type of offensive threat that the Rangers need to return to contention in the AL West. He has struggled through injuries at times, having played just 452 regular-season games out of a possible 709 over the last five years, but he’s made an impact when on the field.

Seager, like Semien, would be an immediate offensive upgrade even if his defense isn’t flawless. He has a career slash line of .297/.367/.504 (.870 OPS) and played 95 games in 2021 after being limited by a fracture in his right hand following a hit-by-pitch. Even so, he slashed .306/.394/.521 (.915 OPS) in the regular season as the Dodgers made it to the NLCS, ultimately losing to the eventual World Series-champion Braves.

In comparison, the Rangers ranked last in MLB in OPS (.670) and on-base percentage (.294) and 29th in batting average (.232) in 2021.

By signing two middle-infield free agents, the Rangers will need to do some shuffling. With Seager and Semien up the middle, the corners are now in flux. Isiah Kiner-Falefa held down the shortstop position for the Rangers in 2021, but he is versatile enough to play anywhere on the diamond and even won a Gold Glove at third base in ‘20.

But Texas’ No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline, third baseman Josh Jung, is due to make his MLB debut by Opening Day, so sliding Kiner-Falefa over to the hot corner seems unlikely unless Jung regresses.

Having too many serviceable infielders is a good problem to have heading into 2022, especially for a Rangers team that is looking to avoid an A-Rod-era type rut. Daniels and Young publicly stated the club’s intent to spend money across the board this winter. They’ve doubled down.

These two days may have been the biggest, but the Rangers may still have more up their sleeve.