Tuesday Newsletter time: A look at some dominoes that will fall after Texas Rangers’ shopping spree
A forthcoming roster crunch must be alleviated, and some top prospects suddenly have roadblocks in front of them.
The last time the Texas Rangers spent like this was never.
They’ve had big offseason acquisitions throughout their history, but nothing like what they did Sunday and Monday.
The Rangers added $561.2 million to future payrolls, and did it without it hurting all that much. They had only $26 million or so committed for 2022, plus around another $23 million in pre-arbs and abritration-eligibles.
There’s more to spend if they want it.
Now, though, the dominoes start to fall, and it’s not good news for everyone on the 40-man roster.
The Rangers have one opening and have added four players. So, three are going to have to go. That’s the business of baseball.
What comes of Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Nick Solak and Andy Ibanez, middle infielders who at some point in the past few seasons were thought to be future pieces? Their future might be elsewhere, though Isiah Kiner-Falefa would be a handy utility player.
The Rangers now appear to have also blocked some of their top prospects. Justin Foscue, Ezequiel Duran, Josh Smith and Davis Wendzel are middle infielders. So are Corey Seager (10 years, $325 million) and Marcus Semien (seven years, $175 million).
The prospects might be required to switch positions. They might become trade bait, which could become an advantage for the Rangers. At minimum they’re minor-leaguers still trying to develop, another advantage for the Rangers.
The Seager and Semien signings, though, hurt the farm system some because the Rangers will be required to forfeit their second- and third-round draft picks (third in each round) while also losing money from their international bonus pool.
But the Rangers are better. They have given themselves visibility with other free agents, this offseason and in future offseasons. They have given fans a reason to come to Globe Life Field other than just to experience air-conditioned summertime baseball.
It’s a stunning changing from past offseasons. Enjoy it.
A source said tha the Rangers were able to secure Seager, a Scott Boras client, without having to include an opt out or a no-trade clause. Seager gets a limited no-trade list, and national reporter said there is a $5 million signing bonus.
Seager knows manager Chris Woodward and hitting coach Tim Hyers from their days together with the Dodgers. Seager was named the National League Championship Series and World Series MVP in 2020 at Globe Life Field.
And for that much money, Seager shouldn’t want to go anywhere. For that much money, he should also be willing to play somewhere other than shortstop.
Semien is the better defensive player, and the Rangers want to be a good defensive team. Seager isn’t a butcher and Semien did win a Gold Glove at second base, but it’s more important to have the better player at shortstop.
With all the defensive shifts these days, Seager has essentially played second base some of the time. That’s not to say Seager shouldn’t play shortstop some of the time. Semien is going to need days off.
It could be Woodward’s call. He’s Seager’s former infield coach, so the two of them should be able to work something out.
The addition of right-hander Jon Gray for four-years and $56 million gives the Rangers a veteran for 2022 who can provide innings while surrounded by young starters.
Gray has had only one home ballpark, the hitter-friendly Coors Field. Somewhat surprisingly, his road splits are worse than at home, but it’s hard to believe that he won’t be a better pitcher at Globe Life Field.
The 30-year-old has a 4.59 career ERA and has averaged 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings, so he’s got stuff. His fastball, a sinker, has averaged 96.1 mph in his career, but 94.5 mph last season.
Gray also gives the Rangers some insurance in case their young starters don’t blossom into rotation pieces. There is a deep group of starters in the minors, perhaps as many as 12 headed by Jack Leiter, Cole Winn and Ricky Vanasco, but realistically speaking not all of them are going to hit.
The Rangers would be thrilled to see three or four become quality starters. That would provide ample financial flexibility to allow them to remain active in free agency in future seasons.
They were brothers. Enjoy. See you Wednesday.