Texas Rangers bid farewell to Austin Hedges and Will Smith as they sign elsewhere

A couple of the Texas Rangers players from the 2023 World Series team are on the move.

Aug 5, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Texas Rangers relief pitcher Will Smith (51) and catcher Austin
Aug 5, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Texas Rangers relief pitcher Will Smith (51) and catcher Austin / Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports
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One of the unique aspects of a MLB team, is that they are never exactly the same from year to year. Even in the case of the Texas Rangers, who will have most of their players returning for 2024, there are still some guys that will be in different uniforms come next season. Some of that transition has already begun as both backup catcher and head cheerleader Austin Hedges, and relief pitcher Will Smith have signed with new teams.

Hedges, who joined the Rangers in the middle of the season via a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates, will be taking his defensive skillset and infectious smile to Cleveland to help out the Guardians. Chris Young traded for Hedges when Jonah Heim got hurt and it was unclear how long the injury would keep him out of the lineup. Even though Hedges didn't see the playing field that often for the Rangers, he was a clear fan favorite and exceptional teammate in his short time in Arlington. It is clear that Hedges enjoys what he does and loves the game of baseball. He will be returning to Cleaveland where he played a portion of the 2020 season and all of 2021 and 2022. His new contract is a one-year deal for $4 million.

The Texas Rangers would not be World Series champions without Will Smith. That isn't just because all he has done over the last three seasons is win titles. Smith has been on the last three World Series teams: Braves, Astros, and now the Rangers. Reality is, the Rangers would not have even made the playoffs without him this season, much less win it all.

When the Rangers pen was struggling to close out games, Smith stepped up and handled high leverage situations very well for the club throughout a large part of the season. He wasn't perfect, and had his own issues as well, but he was better than he wasn't and helped lead the Rangers to the postseason. Smith will be taking his veteran left arm to Kansas City to pitch for the Royals on a one-year, $5 million contract.

Both Hedges and Smith were good players and great teammates that helped the Rangers get to the promise land. They will both hold a special place in Rangers' fans hearts, as will all of the special 2023 roster. A tip of the hat to two of the good guys of the game.

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