Could the Texas Rangers sign 2 of the top free agent shortstops?

Oct 31, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa (1) hits an RBI double against the Atlanta Braves during the third inning of game five of the 2021 World Series at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 31, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa (1) hits an RBI double against the Atlanta Braves during the third inning of game five of the 2021 World Series at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports /

The Texas Rangers have a lot of money to spend this free agency. They currently have $36 million on the payroll, placing them 28th of 30 MLB teams. As a comparison, their payroll in 2019 was just over $148 million, ranking 12th.

No, they’re probably not going to spend $100 million this year but two to three big-ticket free agent signings should be expected given all the talk.

Texas SHOULD be doing their due diligence with just about every free agent who is an above-average contributor but the shortstops, in particular, are of interest. Labeled as “The Big 5”, Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Trevor Story, Marcus Semien, and Javier Baez are receiving quite a bit of attention from most teams. The Rangers, of course, are one of the favorites to land one of these game-changers but what if they went for two?

Could the Texas Rangers sign two big name shortstops in free agency?

Yes, the notion is a bit….outlandish. The Texas Rangers still have Isiah Kiner-Falefa, after all, who played great defensively and adequately offensively as a shortstop last year. In the minors, you have sixth ranked prospect Josh H. Smith who could only be one or two years away from breaking into the majors. There is also Anderson Tejeda who had a terrible year, but the high ceiling remains. Over at second base, Nick Solak was underwhelming but still relatively inexperienced. Then there is the seventh ranked prospect Ezequiel Duran, who’s tearing down the doors in the minors and could be up in two years himself.

So, why on earth would the Rangers lock in significant amounts of money for TWO free agents who play the SAME position? Well, you can’t have too much of a good thing. Oh, and you’d be looking at moving one of them to a position of need. Depth is a major concern when you play 162 games, as evident by both of the 2021 World Series challengers being able to overcome major injuries because of quality reinforcements. This would also allow for more enticing trades to be made to fill other needs.

So creating the wild scenarios…Semien, who already has made the move to second, is 31 already, and being the eldest with a smaller track record of success will knock him out of contention for this rebuilding team. Seager and Correa are the best available free agents, will be paid like so, and will want to stay at shortstop so only one of them will be available.

That leaves Story and Baez as the second signing piece. Baez moved to second when Lindor came back in New York and played well. Story meanwhile played second and third in the minors while being blocked by Troy Tulowitzki. Both having experience at other positions is a bonus.

For the sake of bringing some normality into this wild proposal, I’ll stick with the two that are already linked to the Texas Rangers in Corey Seager and Trevor Story. Seager would come in at an expected $30 million or more AAV. Story, meanwhile, has taken a hit to his value, causing some to believe that the 2021 preseason number one player could only cost about $21 million AAV. That would cover $51-53 million of the budget, which still leaves plenty for other signings.

Now to play the game Would You Rather…Assuming the Rangers land Corey Seager and Trevor Story is still in the picture….that $21 million puts him right in the range of other targets.

Let’s take a look at who they’d be passing up by taking this route. (salary projections used via MLBTR, 2022 season playing age noted)

  • Kris Bryant (30)- 6 year/$160 million ($26.67 AAV)
  • Nick Castellanos (30)- 5 year/$115million ($23 AAV)
  • Kyle Schwarber (29)- 4 year/$70 million ($17.5 AAV)
  • Chris Taylor (31) – 4 year/$64 million ($16 AAV)
  • Michael Conforto (29)-1 year/$20 million
  • Trevor Story (29)- 6 years/$126 million ($21 AAV)

The preferred cheaper route here would be going after Chris Taylor but for $5 million more a year you could have a premier player in Story.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that most of those players are outfielders as well. That’s because Story wouldn’t be moving to second base in this hypothetical. He’d be your left fielder. Story was elite defensively at SS before his declined performance in 2021, and he does have experience at second as mentioned earlier. However, the plan would be to move IKF over to the keystone and put Story in the outfield with Adolis Garcia in the center.

Why would Story be in left field instead of right you say? Well, the Rangers already have some great defensive talent on the roster in DJ Peters and Leody Taveras. The main reason though, is right field would be manned by Seiya Suzuki in this scenario. As stated previously, there is still more to spend and Suzuki’s assumed 4-5 years/ $11-12 million AAV would still very much be in play.

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Overall, this wild scenario allows the Texas Rangers to take two of the best available free agents, stacking them in the lineup while addressing a position of need. It also maintains the flexibility to sign other players as needed while freeing up others to be available in trades. This would be a bold strategy to take that could pay off major dividends if Story comes back to form.