DALLAS — A week or so after the trade deadline last summer, after the Texas Rangers had cleared out the Major League roster of anyone left who was no longer a part of the long term plans, general manager Chris Young addressed the media and mentioned that the team planned to be very busy in free agency.
In the days following the 102-loss 2021 campaign, Young again alluded to the team having money to spend. Reports suggested that the Rangers could add anywhere up to $100 million to their annual payroll. However, given the state of the team coming off three last place finishes in the previous four seasons, there was a healthy amount of skepticism that Texas could stick the landing when it came time to land premium free agents.
The next time Chris Young speaks, people will listen. On November 28, 2021, it was reported that the Rangers were the first team to strike for a top free agent when they grabbed one of the four coveted free agent shortstops on the market. Marcus Semien had signed a seven-year, $175 million dollar deal to alter the landscape in Arlington.
The Rangers were not even close to done as, just a day later, we found out that they had signed former Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager to a massive 10-year, $325 million deal as a double dip on elite shortstops stunned the baseball universe.
With Seager in the mix, Semien was only the shortstop of the present for the Rangers for a mere 24 hours as he happily slid back over to second base on the depth chart, a spot on the diamond where he won a Gold Glove with Toronto and set the all-time single-season record for home runs (45) at the position in 2021.
Semien arrives in Texas fresh off arguably one of the greatest seasons for a second baseman in league history and provides a massive upgrade to a position that hasn’t had a stable presence in Arlington since the days of Ian Kinsler.
The players who manned second base hit .255/.317/.388 for the Rangers in 2021. Nick Solak was responsible for most of the playing time with 121 games with Andy Ibáñez and Yonny Hernandez combining for another 40 games. That trio combined for an OPS of .705 and placed Texas at 20th in the league which made second base one of the weak spots in the lineup.
Meanwhile, Semien had a slash line of .265/.334/.538 in 162 games for the Blue Jays in 2021 as he led the league in plate appearances, made his first All-Star game, and finished third in the American League MVP voting. Semien’s OPS of .873 was 24th overall in baseball and his WAR of 6.6 was tied for third-best in the league. Having been a shortstop for much of his career, Semien’s defense is considered elite at second base, which adds another dimension to his value.
Semien isn’t a one-hit wonder, either. Drafted in the sixth round by the Chicago White Sox in 2011, Semien was traded to Oakland before the 2015 season and had been a solid contributor at shortstop for the Athletics over the next six seasons. In 2019, Semien had a breakout season when he hit 33 home runs and slashed .285/.369/.522 in 162 games, which garnered him his first top-three finish in the MVP voting.
Though they paid the premium in years and dollars to bring him to Texas, Semien represents a renovation from below average output to essentially the best player at his position. As a first-day leader and veteran presence for a team growing out its foundation, Semien will be counted on to be the example to follow as he tries to guide the Rangers back to October in the coming years.
Do you think Marcus Semien has another high MVP placing ahead of him for the Rangers? Share your predictions with us on Twitter @BaseballTX.