Twenty years later, the Texas Rangers have agreed to another A-Rod contract

Ashley Landis/AP
·4 min read

The Texas Rangers were the Depression era octogenarians who hoarded pennies but, now faced with their own mortality, are blowing cash like a billionaire oil man vacationing in Monte Carlo.

Texas Rangers owner Ray Davis, armed with more money than Google can count, has realized money does not go to the big baseball stadium in the sky and, thankfully, is having some fun with his little baseball team.

The Rangers are going old school Tom Hicks during this free agency period and combining several offseasons worth of spending into a few days.

We (me?) crushed the Rangers and President Jon Daniels and Ray Ray for their relentless commitment to frugality over these last few miserable years, so credit where credit is due.

They’re trying like hell.

The Rangers decided if they are going to play baseball, their version of Moneyball was not working so they are spending money instead.

The Rangers have thus far signed shortstop Corey Seager for 10 years and $325 million; Marcus Semien, seven-years, $175 million; starting pitcher Jon Gray, four years, $56 million; outfielder Cole Calhoun, one year, $5.2 million.

The commitments to Seager and Semien are more than the club has spent on payroll in the last four years combined.

What this says is that the Rangers’ rebuild through their farm system is going so poorly the team felt it had no choice but to build the roster through free agency.

There is no guarantee this method of building a roster works, ask the San Diego Padres of 2021. Or ask the 2001 Texas Rangers.

Back in the winter of 2000, then Rangers owner Tom Hicks started a free agent spending spree over the next 12 months by signing Alex Rodriguez to a then-record 10-year, $252 million contract.

(BTW: That contract would be $404 million in today’s dollars).

After a terrible 2001 season, at the suggestion of new general manager John Hart, who was JD’s first mentor into this business, the club signed starting pitcher Chan Ho Park to a five-year, $65 million deal.

Hicks also added veterans Ken Caminiti (RIP) to a two-year, $9.5 million deal, Andres Galarraga to a one-year, $6.25 million contract, pitcher Ismael Valdez to a one-year, $2.5 million contract, and brought back outfielder Juan Gonzalez on a two-year, $24 million contract.

The sum of those deals was $359.25 million. In today’s dollars, that would be worth approximately $551.9 million.

The sum of these major contracts the club just handed in 2021 out is $561 million.

About those results ...

In A-Rod’s first season, 2001, the club won 73 games. The next year, they won 72 games.

A-Rod lasted three seasons with the Rangers before Hicks’ finances changed, and so too did the direction of the franchise. The Rangers dealt A-Rod, and his contract, to the New York Yankees.

Caminiti and Galarraga were both dealt during the 2001 season; Valdez was traded in 2002. Gonzalez lasted through two injury plagued seasons before he left.

Chan Ho never fit the No. 1 starter role with the Rangers, and was traded in 2005.

It was in this period, in the summer of 2004, Hicks decided he could not win by just signing free agents; that he was committed to building the team through the farm system.

Exactly none of this means what happened during the Rangers’ Great Spending Spree of 2000 and 2001 will be repeated 20 years later.

It just means the same thing as it always does: The inability to develop young talent into top Major League players forced the Rangers to enter the pricey world of free agent shopping.

As a fan and observer of the Rangers for more than 20 years, it’s a relief the team are committed to being more than the Baltimore Orioles or Pittsburgh Pirates, just another franchise whose logo should be a dollar sign on a white flag.

The Rangers didn’t have to do this.

The Rangers won 60 games last season, and are one of the worst teams in MLB over the last five years.

They won’t make the playoffs in 2022 but by Ray Ray going the Tom Hicks’ route, they will be interesting.

Considering the Depression the Rangers’ fans are in, “interesting” is a reason to celebrate and applaud a team that showed a commitment to winning rather than just frugality.

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