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The Texas Rangers' Record Spending Spree Isn't Paying Off

Ryan Phillips
Marcus Semien, Texas Rangers v Toronto Blue Jays
Marcus Semien, Texas Rangers v Toronto Blue Jays / Vaughn Ridley/GettyImages
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The Texas Rangers raised eyebrows this winter as they embarked on a record spending spree following a 102-loss season in 2021. They splashed $561.2 million on free agents before the lockout in an attempt to jolt the organization into contention in a new(ish) ballpark. So far that spending has not translated to wins, and the return on investment is looking pretty terrible.

Entering this weekend's action, the Rangers are 13-17 and sit a half-game ahead of the Oakland Athletics for last place in the American League West. It's worth noting, the A's sold off all their best players this offseason while the Rangers spent, yet the two teams are neck-and-neck in the standings.

The most glaring issue for Texas has been the play of Marcus Semien. The Rangers handed the second baseman a seven-year, $175 million deal in December and he's been straight awful. Semien is currently hitting .165, with a .228 on-base percentage and is slugging .217. He currently carries a wRC+ of 35, and his fWAR is -0.4. For those unaccustomed to advanced stats, trust me when I say those numbers are really bad. Semien is 31 years old, so he shouldn't be washed at this point, but his start has not been encouraging.

The Rangers' other huge offseason signing was shortstop Corey Seager. They handed the 28-year-old a 10-year, $325 million deal that left many MLB observers puzzled. That was a lot of money for a guy with a lengthy injury history and diminishing range at short. So far this season, Seager hasn't been the star Texas was hoping for.

Through 29, Seager is slashing .237/.302/.430 with an OPS of .731. His wRC+ of 117 is far below his typical career marks (he finished at 147 in 2021 and league average is 100), and he carries a 1.0 fWAR. Those numbers aren't horrendous, but they're not what a bonafide star with a $325 million contract should be putting up.

The Rangers also went out and signed righty starter Jon Gray to a four-year, $56 million deal and he's been a bust thus far, while already been on the injured list once. In four starts, the former No. 3 overall draft pick is 0-1 with a 5.51 ERA, a 1.22 WHIP and seven walks against 15 strikeouts in only 16.1 innings. Maybe signing a 30-year-old who never really put it together with the Colorado Rockies was a bad idea.

Another offseason signing was right fielder Kole Calhoun. The 34-year-old got a one-year, $5.2 million deal with a $5.5 million club option for 2023. You guessed it, he's been just as bad as the rest of the new guys. In 79 at-bats, Calhoun is slashing .177/.217/.228 with an OPS of .445, a wRC+ of 33 (!!!) and his fWAR is -0.5. Yikes.

But you can't just blame a few high-dollar individuals for the Rangers' awful play, it's a team-wide failure. Texas currently ranks 26th in MLB in batting average (.219), 26th in on-base percentage (.286), 27th in slugging percentage (.342), 27th in OPS (.629), 20th in runs scored (120) and 27th in hits. The offense has been horrendous across the board.

The pitchers haven't been as bad as the hitters, but they haven't been great. The staff currently ranks 19th in ERA (3.84) and 19th in WHIP (1.25), and in 30 games the team's starters have posted only six quality starts. Things aren't quite Cincinnati Reds bad, but they're pretty bleak.

We're just more than a month into the season and the Rangers are seven games out of first in the AL West. It's early and guys can certainly turn their seasons around but things do not look good. The offseason champs don't look like they'll be competing this season.

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