The Rangers have doled out more than $500 million to just three players in the span of two days.
One of those players is Jon Gray, and you can read more about what it means for him here. The two more notable for Fantasy purposes, though, are Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, who together will make up their new double-play combination.
Seager was the latest (and richest) to sign on, agreeing to a 10-year, $325 million deal. For comparison, Bryce Harper has 10 years and about $260 million remaining on the deal he signed three years ago, which rocked the industry at the time. It's a big investment in a player thought to have MVP upside even though injuries have rendered that upside mostly theoretical in recent years.
Semien has more clearly demonstrated MVP potential, having finished third in AL voting both in 2019 and 2021, and yet his seven-year, $175 million deal also falls into the "aggressive" category. Part of it's because he's already 31 years old. Part of it's because, well, that's probably what it took for a team like the Rangers, who went 60-102 last year, to get him. But the biggest part is because of how the rest of Semien's career, 2019 and 2021 excluded, has gone.
How's that? Well, the shortened 2020 season in between, during which he hit .223 with a .679 OPS, was widely regarded as a return to normalcy. It's only because he bounced back so completely in 2021 -- actually setting the single-season record for home runs by a second baseman -- that he could possibly command a contract so lengthy and large.
But was it driven by the venue change from Oakland to Toronto? Would his modest exit velocities have responded as well to the new ball if he had played in a venue more the size of the Rangers' Globe Life Field? I worry.
I don't for Seager, for what it's worth. Sure, I would have rather seen him return to the Dodgers, where he's lavished in run and RBI opportunities and in no position to be pitched around. I would have rather him gone back to a homer-friendly park than one that's played big so far in its brief existence. But I still look at his exit velocities, hard-hit and line-drive rates, 96th percentile xBA and 90th percentile xSLG, and see the sort of skill set that would translate anywhere, even if you could make the case it hasn't fully manifested yet.
On Fantasy Baseball Today I jumped on with Frank Towers to talk more in-depth Fantasy reaction to the Seager signing and more.
Also ... it sort of has. It's come and fits and starts, between his Tommy John surgery in 2018 and his fractured hand this past season, but his 2021 numbers came out better than you probably remember, buoyed by a monstrous September in which he hit .385 with nine homers and an 1.174 OPS.
In fact, in 147 games since the start of 2020 -- or basically a full season's worth -- Seager has hit .306 with 31 homers and a .926 OPS. Those numbers are certainly deserving of an early-round pick, and you could argue there's still the upside for more, judging by the advanced metrics and the aforementioned fits and starts.
Of course, in terms of Fantasy impact, those numbers pale in comparison to the 45 homers and 15 steals Semien contributed in 2021, but Statcast has identified him as one of the biggest overachievers of the past season, his .243 xBA and .452 xSLG falling well short of his actual .265 and .538 marks. He doesn't produce the same high-end exit velocities Seager does and can't fall back on batting average the way Seager can. He sells out for power despite having little natural pop, and that's a profile that might require a smaller venue to work.
But what about 2019, the second of his MVP-caliber seasons, in which he hit 33 homers with an .892 OPS in the Athletics' cavernous park? Ah, but that was with the old baseball, which carried better than the one put in play in 2021. The hitters that seemed most impacted by the equipment change were the ones, like Semien, who previously delivered big home run totals without big exit velocities. And while it's true he actually hit more home runs on the road (23) than at the three venues the Blue Jays called home (22) in 2021, he also played in a division loaded with hitter's parks. The AL West is on the opposite end of the spectrum as far as that goes.
And again, we can't lose sight of the fact that Semien's 2019 season looked like a complete and utter aberration before 2021 played out the way it did. The 2020 season sandwiched in between was closer to the norm for Semien, who hit .249 with a .713 OPS through his age-27 season. If environmental factors -- the smaller park, the friendlier division, the incredible supporting cast -- were largely responsible for Semien's second MVP-caliber turn, with a dash of luck thrown in, couldn't a change in those environmental factors bring him back down to size?
I'm not saying with any real certainty that Semien will turn back into a pumpkin. With the wild ride he's taken the past three years, how could I possibly know? What I'm saying is that if you have any concerns about him turning back into a pumpkin, which I do, this destination will only stoke those fears.
Realistically, he'll still probably be drafted ahead of Seager still. Realistically, I can only justify dropping him about one spot in my second base rankings, behind Ozzie Albies. But while before, Semien seemed like a comfortable choice at the Round 2-3 turn, he now looks like an uncomfortable one at the Round 3-4 turn.
Seager himself might drop a spot in my shortstop rankings, behind Xander Bogaerts, but in terms of what to expect in Fantasy Baseball, the impact of these signings is significantly less for him.