Texas Rangers confident half a billion dollar midfielder will end up paying big dividends

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The Philadelphia Athletics of the early 1910s had the $100,000 Infield.

First baseman Stuffy McInnis, second baseman Eddie Collins, third baseman Frank “Home Run” Baker and shortstop Jack Barry reportedly made $100,000 a year. It was a princely sum at the time for baseball players and valued at nearly $3 million in today’s dollars.

The Texas Rangers have the $500 million Middle Infield, which consists of second baseman Marcus Semien and shortstop Corey Seager.

Both players signed with Rangers as free agents on Dec. 1 — Seager agreeing to a 10-year, $325 million deal and Semien signing a seven-year, $175 million pact.

Talk about an 11-decade wage increase.

These signings were designed to help bring Rangers back to respectability this season and eventually become the building blocks of a Championship side.

The Rangers seemingly hit rock bottom last season when they finished 60-102 for their worst record since the franchise moved to Arlington from Washington in 1972. It also marked Texas’ sixth consecutive losing season since its last playoff appearance in 2016.

Just over a third of Rangers’ first season with Seager and Semien in the lineup, results have been mixed.

The Rangers are certainly more respectable with a 26-30 record. However, Seager and Semien failed to produce at the level their contracts would suggest.

Seager leads the Rangers with 11 homers, but hits .223/.291/.405 in 54 games. A recent surge took Semien’s line to .222/.280/.353 in 55 games with six homers and 10 stolen bases.

However, Rangers manager Chris Woodward makes it clear that Texas have no buyer’s remorse and are confident they will get a lot for their half billion dollars.

“I know they both would like to play at a higher level, which they will,” Woodward said. “I have total faith in them, what they bring every day, the attitude, the way they work, the way they prepare, the way they are inside the clubhouse.

“They are unique in their own way. They have different preparation processes, but they both set great examples for anyone at this club with their work ethic.

The addition of highly talented players was Rangers’ main motivation to pursue Seager and Semien.

Seager, 28, is a two-time All-Star and a two-time Silver Slugger. He was the National League Championship Series and World Series MVP in 2020 — both played at Rangers’ Globe Life Field during the pandemic — when the Los Angeles Dodgers won their first championship since 1988.

Semien, 31, was both the American League Silver Slugger and Gold Glove winner last season. His 45 home runs for the Toronto Blue Jays set the MLB record for a second baseman in a single season.

However, Rangers also signed the duo with the long game in mind, to be what Woodward calls “franchise pillars”. Seager’s contract runs until 2031 and Semien’s does not expire until 2028.

Both Seager and Semien were part of a strong free-agent class of shortstops last winter that included Javier Baez, Carlos Correa and Trevor Story. Although Semien moved to second base in his only season with the Blue Jays in 2021, he spent his first eight seasons in the league at shortstop and was chased by other teams in the open market for play the position.

The Rangers surprised many around baseball by signing two of those five players, and Woodward knows many teams must have been jealous of Texas for pulling off such a feat.

“He’s a big part of your team in general,” Woodward said of the midfielder. “You always talk about midfield players – the receiver, the shortstop, the second baseman, the center fielder. This is where your best players are, especially on both sides of the ball.

“Everyone looks up to them because they’re your hardest working players and there’s a lot of long-term value to them. Shortstop, in particular, is a prime position these days, where you need your guys be your best hitter as well as your best defender. That’s why Corey and Marcus are so important to what we do here. They’re both special players and special people.

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