ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Corey Seager and Marcus Semien were well aware of the 102 losses last year and five consecutive losing seasons for the Texas Rangers.
As a half-billion dollar middle infield, they will now work together to turn things around in Texas.
“They were very open and honest about how many games they’ve lost and where they’re at as an organization right now, and where their vision is,” Seager said. “ And that’s something that we wanted to embrace. ... I love the work of it, the drive, the passion for the game, to do it the right way and have the right people. It always comes down to the people.”
The Rangers on Wednesday finalized their $325 million, 10-year deal with two-time All-Star shortstop Seager, and a $175 million, seven-year contract with Gold Glove second baseman Semien.
After Semien was the first to sign, he pestered their agent Scott Boras to make sure Seager was going to follow suit.
"The seven-year deal part of it, you have to look past where this team is right now," Semien said. "What I heard was that they wanted to add top-of-the-market players. Not player. Players.”
The middle infielders are part of the Rangers’ MLB-record $561.2 offseason spending spree that included right-handed starter Jon Gray for $56 million over four seasons, and outfielder Kole Calhoun on a $5.2 million deal next year.
Seager got a $5 million signing bonus, with a salary of $32.5 million next season before peaking at $35 million in 2023. He will make $34.5 million in 2024, $32 million in 2025 and $31 million in each of the last six years of the deal.
Semien's deal with no opt-outs is worth $25 million next season, $26 million each from 2023-27 and $20 million in the final year in 2028.
All the deals got finalized hours before the expiration of MLB’s five-year collective bargaining agreement with the Major League Baseball Players Association at 10:59 p.m. Texas time, which is expected to lead to a lockout by management.
The 27-year-old Seager played his first seven big league seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who during the pandemic-altered 2020 season played 16 consecutive postseason games at Globe Life Field in Arlington on the way to their first World Series title since 1988.
“I was fortunate enough to be drafted by a team that won right away. You grow up fast. You learn how to be a professional. You learn how to do it the right way,” Seager said, before stumbling over his words.
Seager tried a couple of times to note the magnitude of the “accomplishment” of bringing a title back to Los Angeles before giving up and saying, "Oh my goodness. It was exciting. I’m not going to try to say it again.”
Rangers manager Chris Woodward, who previously coached both of Seager's brothers, smiled nearby. Before Woodward's three seasons with the Dodgers as third-base coach and infield instructor with Corey, he was on Seattle's staff with Kyle Seager, and in the minors with Justin Seager.
When Woodward left the Dodgers after the 2018 season to become manager at the Rangers, he again challenged Seager to become a leader, leaving some words of advice he hoped would push him toward that role.
“It’s hard to believe he’s in a Ranger uniform right now. I’m pinching myself a little bit,” Woodward said. “There’s so much that we share, a common vision of this organization, and the impact he’s going to have on the field obviously with his performance, but in the clubhouse.”
Seager was the MVP in both the World Series and NL Championship Series in the home ballpark of the Rangers. He hit .350 with seven homers and 19 RBIs, including the go-ahead RBI in the World Series-clinching Game 6 win over Tampa Bay, in those playoff games.
He hit .306 with 16 homers and 57 RBIs in 95 games this year, when he broke a finger on his right hand after getting hit by a pitch May 15 and missed 2 1/2 months. He is a .297 career hitter with 104 homers and 364 RBIs in 636 games.
Semien was a shortstop in his six seasons with Oakland from 2015-20 before starting 147 games at second base and playing all 162 games for Toronto this year. He signed an $18 million, one-year deal with the Blue Jays in free agency last offseason.
The 31-year-old Semien hit .265 and set career highs with 45 homers, 102 RBIs and 15 stolen bases in his only season in Toronto. The 45 homers set an MLB record for a second baseman. He finished third in the AL MVP voting, as he did in 2019 when he played all 162 games for the Athletics and hit .285 with 33 homers and 92 RBIs.
“I’m not asking Marcus to be anything but himself, and that’s going to be enough,” Woodward said. “This is the type of player that you build around. I think he’s a perfect fit for our culture, and I’m deeply grateful that he chose us. I told him he’s the first real pillar to cement himself in a Texas Ranger uniform. He took a leap of faith on us.”
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Stephen Hawkins And Schuyler Dixon, The Associated Press