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MLB free agency rumors: Texas Rangers in talks with superstar free-agent shortstops

The Rangers are exploring multiple options to boost their offense

Marcus Semien #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays swings against the Baltimore Orioles in the first inning during their MLB game at the Rogers Centre on October 3, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images

Texas Rangers president Jon Daniels said last month that after drastically scaling back its payroll in 2021, the team would be very active in the free-agent market this offseason.

Their efforts have born no fruit just yet, but it does seem like the Rangers are dead set on making a splash this winter. MLB Network insider Jon Morosi reported Thursday night that Texas is pursuing three of the biggest names available on the free-agent market in Corey Seager, Trevor Story and Marcus Semien.

Signing any of those three would be quite a coup for the Rangers, who got only eight home runs and a .660 OPS from their shortstops this past season. Isiah Kiner-Falefa manned that position for them in 2021 and although he is a plus defender, he has an 81 OPS through more than 1,400 career at-bats. In other words, his offense is 19 percent below league average.

By comparison, Seager’s OPS+ last year was 145. He would probably cost the most dollars of those three stars since he is the youngest of the trio (he turns 28 in April) and is coming off of two outstanding years at the plate. Even though his 2021 was shortened by a fractured hand, he put up a .306/.394/.521 slash line with 41 extra-base hits in 95 regular-season games.

Some Rangers fans may prefer Story since the former Rockies shortstop is from Irving, Texas, which is a short drive from Globe Life Field. Story’s offense slumped in 2021 as his .471 slugging, .801 OPS and 103 OPS+ were all four-year lows. But the 29-year-old did perk up over the final two months of the season and has registered 158 homers to go with 100 steals in his first six seasons.

Semien had a career season after signing a one-year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. He smashed 45 homers, the most in MLB history by a primary second baseman. He also showcased his versatility by moving from shortstop to second base and playing above-average defense. The 31-year-old is also one of the most durable players in the game; Semien has played in all 162 games in 2019 and 2021.

The Rangers can debate all they want about which of these three players make for the best fit. But signing any of them would back up Daniels’ words and send a clear signal that the Rangers are now building for the present, not the future.