And with the 18th pick in the 2012 draft, the Dodgers selected high school shortstop Corey Seager. He made his debut in September of 2015 and immediately showed his potential by OPSing .986 in 98 ABs. In his full first year he’d become an All star, a silver slugger, the NL ROY, and a MVP finalist. He followed with another All star campaign but then got the injury bug in 2018 and has only shown glimpses of the Seager we saw when he first entered the league. A lot for a kid who is still only 25. The injuries are a concern but we’re going to argue that we should extend Seager so he can be a career Dodger.
- Players similar to Seager
- He’s a FA the same year the SS market explodes
- MVP Seager is still in there
- Arguments against the injury concern
- Signing Seager to a 12-year/$250 million dollar contract would be a discount and doable
We did a statcast deep dive on Seager to see which players are the most similar to him at the plate. This data was purely based on 2019 ABs and takes into account how often the players barrel, have solid contact, a flare-burner, are poorly under, poorly topped, is poorly weak, walks, and strikeouts. We wanted to see how much players who play similar positions were getting paid to produce like the recovering, 2019 Seager. (stats are offensive only).
Seager 2019 Stats: 3.3 WAR, .272/.335/.483, .817 OPS, 113 OPS+
Manny Machado 3B/SS (86% match- closest match)
2019 stats: 2.6 WAR, .256/.334/.462, .796 OPS, 109 OPS+
10 years / $300 million (2020 Salary would be $32 million). He signed in 2019 and it was a record-breaking contract.
Xander Bogaerts SS (82% match)
2019 Stats: 5.9 WAR, .309/.384/.555, .939 OPS, 140 OPS+
6 years / $120 million (2020 salary would be $20 million). Signed an extension right before the 2019 season. Was a steal compared to Machado.
(It’s worth noting Seager has less than 2,000 Toal ABs still)
Nolan Arenado 3B (80% match)
2019 Stats: 6.7 WAR, .315/.379/.583, .962 OPS, 129 OPS+
8 years / $260 million (2020 salary would be $35 million). It was the largest extension ever signed.
Eduardo Escobar 3B/SS (82% match)
2019 Stats: 3.6 WAR, .269/.320/.511, .831 OPS, 111 OPS+
3 years / $21 million (2020 salary would be $7.16 million). He broke out last year and is looking like a steal for the D-backs.
The Shortstop Market
Seager hits the FA market in 2022 along with Trevor Story, Carlos Correa, Javier Baez, and Francisco Lindor. With a litany of SS FA’s in 2021 as well, it’s fair to say a lot of teams will be in the market for a SS.
As for the whole FA market, it will be driven mostly be these SS’s. They have the best mix of youth and value. Every one of the SS’s mentioned will be part of the 10 youngest FA’s of the 2022 market. There are a few other top tier names like Scherzer, Verlander, Freeman, Rizzo, and Hand to name a few. But there are only 26 players who will be under 30 in ’22. These will be the most expensive players on the market. The only players that will probably lead the market with our SS’s are Roberto Osuna, Jose Ramirez, Noah Syndergaard, Eduardo Rodriguez, and the rest depends on who opts-out of their contract. For example, Arenado could opt-out and become the big name on the market.
Whoever signs first will set the tone, but the top ranked infield FA this last year, Anthony Rendon, signed a 7 year / $245 million contract. Players are getting very expensive. Marcus Semien is the best SS to hit the market in ’21 before this group, and rumor has it he’s looking for a long extension. Extend Seager now, and we are the first to dictate how much these SS’s will get paid. Wait, and the price is almost guaranteed to go up.
He is still an MVP caliber player
Eric Karros, called Seager “the most irreplaceable” Dodger. He put together 489 ABs though Seager was recovering almost all season long. The rust was obvious throughout the first month. His bottom was May 4th, when his line sat at .223/.317/.339. But then he went on the 20 game stretch above before pulling up with a hamstring injury on June 11th. He was put on the shelf for a month and the progress that was made was lost. But for the final stretch of the season, Seager put up a September line of .291/.322/.616. If his legs can stay up underneath him, the MVP player is still there.
Arguments against injury concerns
Seager is only 25 right now, but has had three time consuming injuries. Tommy John, hip surgery, and hamstring issues. The hip injury came from a misshapen bone so we’ll assume that won’t comeback anytime soon. But Tommy John and hamstring issues could become reoccurring issues.
But in order to have Seager sign for a discount, he’ll want security. We’ll assume he wants 10+ years. While it seems daunting to commit to a SS for 10 years, it’s important to realize he doesn’t have to be a SS for the entirety of the contract. He’s long been predicted to make the move to 3B which would help out with his legs and hips. If his arm proves to become a recurring issue, he can make the move to 2B. If both become an issue, it’s realistic to expect that baseball will bring the DH to the NL within the next decade. As we’ve shown, a healthy Seager has an elite bat. If defense is wearing him down, he could be a future average heavy DH.
From 2006-2017 the cost per WAR for a position player was $5.7 million. Since he played a different amount of games per season, Seager’s career average WAR/game is .03722. He’s technically only averaging about 98 games per season, but one season was a callup and the other he needed TJ. So we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say he plays on average 135 games a year for the rest of his career. (1 more game than last year) At his current rate of .03722 WAR/g * 135 games, we’re saying Seager produces roughly 5 WAR per season. Assuming WAR has increased in price a bit since 2017, we’ll say $6 million is about the price per WAR right now. We know the Dodgers offered Cole a contract worth $7+ million per projected WAR (and pitchers typically cost less).
So simply put 5 x 6 = Seager’s market value is $30 million a year (assuming he never quite starts producing like he did in 16 and 17). If Seager can stay healthy, then he’s basically Rendon and worth $35+ million a year on the market.
We want to make Seager a Dodger for life, without paying him into his 40’s. The longest contract of recent times is Mike Trout for 12 years. Giving Seager 12 takes him to age 37. We’re ok with that, for the versatility we mentioned above.
So we definitely can’t give Seager the same money as Trout. Even though our projections say a 12 year Seager contract should cost $360 million, the point of extending Seager now is to make a move like the Red Sox did with Bogaerts. It’s time to start building another core, and it should start with Seager.
We say offer him a 12-year $250 million dollar extension and front load it or stretch it out over a longer period of time. Guys like Bellinger and Buehler won’t be so cheap come their time.
If we wait too long, Seager is going to cost $300+ million and probably for less time.