Corey Seager is about to be a very, very rich man. After playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers for his entire career up until now, the shortstop is set to test the market and land a contract in excess of $200 million, perhaps approaching $300 million.
Seager is a free agent at a perfect age (28 in April 2022) and after proving for a long time that he is a top offensive shortstop: he has been in the majors for seven years now and he hasn’t had a season with a wRC+ lower than 106.
During the last two campaigns, he slashed .307/.358/.585 with a 150 wRC+ (2020) and .306/.394/.521 with a 147 wRC+ (2021). You’d imagine it would be nice to have a lefty-swinging shortstop capable of consistently hitting for average, taking his walks, and showing some solid power.
The 2020 World Series MVP is extremely hard to strike out, can handle high heat, and doesn’t have any weaknesses offensively. Obviously, that kind of profile invites one to think he will earn top dollar in the market.
This year, he suffered a fractured right hand after being hit by a pitch, and that limited him to 95 regular season games. Any concerns about the state of his hand were erased when he mashed upon returning, to the tune of a 169 wRC+ in 240 plate appearances.
The only thing separating Seager from fellow free agent shortstop Carlos Correa, and the reason why the latter should be able to land a slightly bigger contract is defense. Depending on who you ask, you will hear that Seager is somewhere between passable to one of the worst defensive shortstops in the game.
The numbers certainly didn’t like his 2021 performance. He had -0.6 Fielding Runs Above Average (FRAA) and -5 Outs Above Average (OAA). Ultimate Zone Rating thought he was bad, too: his UZR/150 was a lousy -14.1.
Lots of people prefer Defensive Runs Saved, or DRS, to judge fielding performance on the infield, though. Seager had 0 DRS in 2021. For reference, Correa had 21 DRS (and 12 OAA) and Trevor Story, another top shortstop available, had 9 DRS. There are lots of defensive metrics, but each and every one of them thinks Seager is clearly a worse fielder than Correa. With the two of them being relatively close in hitting ability (with the former Dodger considered a bit better), the perception is that the Astros’ infielder will get the bigger contract.
That doesn’t mean Seager isn’t going to get paid, though. FanGraphs is projecting him to sign an eight-year, $240 million contract, or $30 million per season. When all is said and done, he will likely put pen to paper on at least a six or seven-year deal worth a minimum of $25 million per campaign.
There will surely be no shortage of teams looking to secure his services. The New York Yankees publicly said they need a shortstop and are one of the favorites to land the former Dodger. Some scouts say he will need to move to second or third halfway through his contract, but that probably won’t be a problem for the Bombers, a team with three viable shortstop prospects in Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza, and Oswaldo Cabrera who can take over by then.
The Detroit Tigers are one star away from making things in the AL Central really interesting, and they are said to be hard after Correa. If that plan fails, it’s not hard to see them pivoting to Seager. The Phillies need an upgrade over Didi Gregorius, and the Houston Astros, Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers, and St. Louis Cardinals could also be potential landing spots for Seager.
In any case, Seager is about to sign a big contract that the Dodgers may or may not offer, given that they traded for Trea Turner prior to the deadline, and he can take over at shortstop while Gavin Lux can play second. But don’t worry about his paycheck: he’ll get his money, no matter where he lands.
Andrés Chávez loves the game of baseball and writes about it at Beyond the Box Score, Pinstripe Alley, and other sites. He is on Twitter as @andres_chavez13