Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward could not stop smiling.
Woodward, who will start his fourth season next spring, will finally field a roster that should reasonably be expected to win.
The club formally introduced four of its free agent signings at Globe Life Field on Wednesday afternoon, including shortstop Corey Seager, second baseman Marcus Semien, outfielder Kole Calhoun, and right-hander Jon Gray.
All told, it was the best day for the Rangers organization so far in its two-year old, $1.2 billion ballpark.
Seager’s 10-year, $325 million deal includes a $5 million signing bonus and will pay him $32.5 million in 2022, $35 million in 2023, $34.5 million in 2024, $32 million in 2025, and $31 million each year from 2026-31.
Semien’s 7-year deal will pay him $25 million in 2022, $26 million each year from 2023-27, and $20 million in 2028.
What had been viewed as a rebuild is now officially a makeover. And the team’s ownership hasn’t pinched any pennies.
Altogether, the Rangers’ $561 million earmarked for the four players has shaken up MLB and completely altered the course of the team’s immediate future.
Winning no longer appears two or more years away. The updated lineup, while it still lacks a pitcher or two, should be markedly improved after five consecutive losing seasons. The Rangers have altered their future in a massively drastic way already and there could be more additions, especially concerning their pitching rotation.
They’ve already announced bobblehead nights featuring their two newest stars — Seager on July 9 and Semien on Aug. 13.
Things are suddenly looking up for a club that lost 102 games in 2021.
“How can you not be excited about that?” Seager said of playing alongside Semien, 31. “There’s not a bad word being said about Marcus. To be up the middle together for a long time is very exciting.”
Seager, 27, and Semien, referred to as pillars by the Rangers’ front office, including general manager Chris Young, president Jon Daniels, and Woodward, both said they were attracted to the challenge of returning the Rangers to glory.
“I’m here seven years. I’m so excited to see what the last year of this seven-year contract looks like, where we are,” said Semien, who was the first player the Rangers met with. “Their vision was the same. They want to build something right now and change this culture, turn it into a winning culture.”
Semien and Seager both suggested that part of the allure of signing with Texas was that there would be multiple additions.
“What I heard is they wanted to add top-of-the-market players. Not player — players,” Semien said. “When you hear that and imagine playing up the middle with Corey Seager.”
Calhoun’s deal is for $5.2 million in 2022 with a club option worth $5.5 million in 2023, which does not include a buyout.
Gray, who turned 30 last month, is 53-49 in seven seasons with the Rockies. He grew up in Oklahoma and played for the Sooners. His four-year deal is worth $56 million. He’ll be paid $15 million each for 2022 and 2023, and $13 million in 2024 and 2025.
Semien, who was joined by his with Tarah and sons Isaiah, 5, Joshua, 3, and Eli, 10 months, left an impression on the Rangers’ brass during their meeting when he told them he wasn’t afraid of the challenge of helping build the club back into a winner.
Seager was joined by his wife Maddie, and Gray was joined by his wife Jacklyn.
“That’s why he’s here,” Young said. “We feel like Marcus is the right person to take us where we’re looking to go, in winning championships, and do something no Texas Rangers team has ever done.”
The Rangers front office is not only betting on the on-field talents of specifically Seager and Semien, but their clubhouse leadership and demeanor.
“Not only the player, that speaks for itself, but the person, the leader, the family man — all the intangibles we could ask for in a player and a leader — Marcus embodies,” Young said. “I think that was a huge factor in our decision to pursue Marcus in free agency.”
Young, Daniels and Woodward told all four players they wanted to win now.
“Let’s accelerate that process and that’s what they told me,” Semien said. “I love the stadium and I love the idea of my family being here and raising my kids here and playing middle infield at a high level for a long time. From a family point of view, the DFW area checks all of the boxes.”