The Texas Rangers have spent most of last half-decade in the cellar of the AL West. They finished last place in the division in three of the past four seasons, and they’ve posted losing records for five straight years.
Over the past few days, they shelled out more than a half-billion dollars in an effort to improve those fortunes.
The Rangers signed multiple marquee free agents, including a pair of middle infielders on nine-figure mega-deals. On Sunday they inked Marcus Semien for seven years and $175 million, and on Monday they added Corey Seager for 10 years and $325 million. And that’s not all!
Seager’s contract ranks as the sixth-most total money in MLB history and the eleventh-highest annual salary, per MLB Trade Rumors, and it covers him for ages 28-37. In his time with the Dodgers he received MVP votes in three seasons, won the NLCS MVP and World Series MVP en route to a 2020 championship ring, and posted a career .870 OPS and 132 wRC+, all while playing solid defense at shortstop.
Semien returns to the AL West, where Oakland A’s fans will now get to see him 19 times every summer. He played six seasons for Oakland and finished third for MVP in 2019 but struggled in 2020, then went to the Blue Jays in 2021 and finished third for MVP again on the strength of 45 homers — including a dramatic walk-off blast against his former A’s teammates in September. His new contract covers ages 31-37.
That’s an impressive middle infield. Seager has missed some time to injuries but he’s one of the best hitters in the league and should just be entering his prime. Semien requires no further introduction on Athletics Nation.
Gray has spent his whole career with the Rockies, and he held his own in the hitter’s paradise of Colorado. In most years the righty starter struck out more than a batter per inning and posted better-than-average ERA marks, and now he’ll try his hand in a pitcher’s park in Arlington at age 30.
Calhoun had multiple surgeries on his legs last summer and was limited to 51 games and subpar numbers with the D’Backs, but he was productive the two seasons before that. The 34-year-old lefty is probably best cast as a platoon player now, but he’s still got power and a good arm in right field. If he bounces back next year, there’s a team option for 2023.
Texas isn’t messing around. These four additions don’t immediately make them contenders, but they certainly improve the 2022 roster. They also help accelerate the rebuilding process by installing a couple stars into the core, where they might be joined in the future by a new wave of prospects and/or more big acquisitions. The Rangers’ next winning team probably includes Semien and Seager.
In terms of payroll, Texas had plenty of space for this spree. They only had one small contract on the books for 2022 and a couple arbitration-eligible players, plus some dead money from a couple past cuts and salary dumps. Now they’ve added more than $75 million for next summer, or maybe slightly less if the big deals are backloaded.
The Rangers didn’t suddenly take over the AL West this week, but they sure did make a splash. Last summer they traded away multiple stars at the July deadline, but now they’re loading back up.
And most importantly: Marcus finally got paid! Too bad it came from one of the A’s division rivals, but hey, at least it wasn’t the Giants.
Extra note: Texas also acquired outfielder Billy McKinney from the Dodgers. He was Oakland’s 1st-round draft pick in 2013, and has spent parts of the last four seasons in the majors, playing 240 games for five different teams with roughly replacement-level production.
Extra extra note: The Seattle Mariners also made a couple of impact moves this week. The AL West is quickly getting tougher!