The GM Meetings are in full swing in Carlsbad, Calif., and despite the threat of a lockout in three weeks, the Hot Stove is heating up.
The Texas Rangers have big plans for the offseason, highlighted by an aggressive pursuit of top-tier free agents. While a new Collective Bargaining Agreement may or may not come together before the Dec. 1 deadline, the Rangers are wasting no time picking up the phone.
That aggression has the Rangers attached to multiple impact players on the market.
SS Corey Seager
Super agent Scott Boras is in attendance at the GM Meetings, and his typical meeting with the media was filled with one-liners that even made this lover of "dad jokes" cringe.
Prior to a number of eye-rolling puns regarding his clients, he met with Rangers officials regarding All-Star slugger Corey Seager, according to MLB Network's Jon Morosi. Boras also represents shortstop/second baseman Marcus Semien, who will also be in high demand. However, the ties between the Rangers and Seager run a bit deeper.
Manager Chris Woodward coached Seager during his time as third base coach of the Dodgers from 2016-2018. One source told SI's InsideTheRangers.com last month that the Texas skipper covets Seager above others in this year's crop of free agent shortstops. The Rangers also just made the hiring of Tim Hyers as their new hitting coach official on Wednesday, who also served on the same coaching staff as assistant hitting coach in 2016-2017.
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The Rangers have plenty of competition regarding any of the big-name shortstops. Boras is also meeting with the Yankees at the GM Meetings, and plans to at least discuss a potential return to L.A. The Tigers, Mariners, Angels, Phillies, Twins, Astros and Cardinals all figure to play a role in the shortstop market as well.
The Rangers' selling points will be a deep and revamped farm system that is going to produce some of its most exciting talent over the next couple seasons, a state-of-the-art ballpark that has unrivaled amenities (one where Seager has had some resounding success) and the financial wherewithal to money whip any free agent to Arlington.
OF Seiya Suzuki
Morosi also reports that the Rangers are "one of the most serious suitors" for Seiya Suzuki, who is expected to be posted by the Hiroshima Carp of Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball this winter.
Suzuki, 27, slashed .319/.436/.640/1.079 with 38 home runs and 88 RBI in 2021, and has a career .943 OPS over nine seasons with the Carp. The Rangers have a history of pursuing players from the Pacific Rim, and have landed some very good players in the process. So their interest should not come as a surprise.
With the Rangers heavily engaged in pursuit of a free agent shortstop that will reject a qualifying offer, thus requiring the loss of a second-round pick, the Rangers might be wanting to cast a wide net in the outfield pool. Nick Castellanos—who was also tendered a qualifying offer—could be very attractive to them, but he would cost more money and require another forfeited draft pick.
ESPN's Kiley McDaniel projects Suzuki to ink a four-year, $48 million contract, in addition to a projected $9 million posting fee. That amount figures to be considerably lower than some of the top outfielders on the free agent market, but the unknown of adapting to the North American game is always a risk when signing a free agent from overseas.
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