Corey Seager signs with Texas Rangers
The Rangers have been the early stars of the offseason, and they kept their momentum from Sunday going into Monday. Back on Sunday, they made three big moves, led by bringing in infielder Marcus Semien on a seven-year deal while also signing Jon Gray and Kole Calhoun. On Monday, they somehow topped all of those moves by bringing in former Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager on a massive 10-year deal worth $325 million.
With this move, Texas has signed two of the best free agents on the market with Seager and Semien, both of whom play in the middle infield. Presumably the plan is for Seager to play shortstop with Semien at second base, and these two will also be the top batters in the lineup as well. Seager is coming off a season in which he hit .306/.394/.521 for a 147 wRC+. He has had some trouble staying healthy over his career, but when healthy he’s an impact player and is the kind of move Texas needed to move the needle back toward contention.
Why Red Sox players should care: Two pieces to note on this one. The first is that if there was any doubt that Xander Bogaerts would opt out after next season, it is gone now. The shortstop market is huge, and he’ll get paid if he hits the open market. The other part is all positive, as Seager was a clear target for the Yankees this winter. New York has been strangely quiet this winter, and while Carlos Correa and Trevor Story are still out there, any big shortstop coming off the board without landing in pinstripes is a very good thing.
Robbie Ray signs with Seattle Mariners
The American League West in general is shaping up to be a fun division next year, and the Mariners are getting in on the action as well. They may not have been quite as splashy as Texas so far, but they haven’t been too far behind. They made the race for offseason darling closer on Monday by making a splash in the pitching market. Seattle signed AL Cy Young Robbie Ray to a five-year deal worth $115 million.
Ray was one of the biggest surprises in all of baseball this past season, coming over to Toronto on a one-year show-men deal and finding a level of control that he had never shown in the majors before. Walking fewer than seven percent of his opponents, Ray finished with a 2.84 ERA and won the aforementioned Cy Young award. The Mariners appear to be ready to enter the legitimate contender conversation with a move like this as well as acquiring Adam Frazier. With some of their top prospects ready to make an impact in the majors and a surprisingly strong 2021, adding this kind of talent at the top of the rotation is the type of move that can move a team into the postseason.
Why Red Sox fans should care: Three things. One, Ray was in the division and now he is not. Toronto did replace him with Kevin Gausman, which could be a lateral move, but the Blue Jays did lose their top pitcher. Second, the Red Sox missed out on another pitcher. I’m personally skeptical enough about how much of those control gains he can hold, but if he can this is a great deal for Seattle. And third, he did go to a potential wildcard contender in the Mariners. The Red Sox should absolutely be looking at a postseason berth, so any potential contender getting stronger is bad news.
Kirby Yates signs with Atlanta Braves
Last winter, the top reliever free agent to sign was Kirby Yates, who headed to Toronto on a one-year deal. Unfortunately, he suffered an injury in spring training and had to undergo Tommy John surgery. But that didn’t prevent him from getting a new deal this winter, as he signed a two-year deal with the Braves worth $8.25 million.
This could end up being a massive steal for Atlanta, who get a guy who was arguably the best reliever in baseball as recently as 2019. He was elite in both 2018 and 2019, at that point closing out games for the Padres. Injuries have cut him down the last two years, but the upside is undeniable. The Braves have been searching for some help in the late innings despite a 2021 championship, and Yates fits the bill. He’s likely to miss most of 2022, but could be a force again in 2023.
Why Red Sox fans should care: Boston needs immediate help in the bullpen, but even so this is the kind of deal I love and would have loved to see from the Red Sox. The money is small enough that it won’t hamstring them, and the upside is having one of the elite relievers in the game in their bullpen, and as soon as the 2022 stretch run. Who knows if they had a real chance, but this was a chance to make a big splash in the bullpen without having to commit much in resources.
Other notable moves
Those are all the moves we’ll write up for today, but there were other notable moves to mention.