Rangers’ Spending, Rebuilding Pays Off With World Series Title

The World Series champion Texas Rangers were built on the money of owner Ray Davis, whose fortune is valued at $2.9 billion. And he spent $546 million of that money to sign manager Bruce Bochy, shortstop Corey Seager, second baseman Marcus Semien and pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, all of whom were free agent renegades.

With the World Series title in hand—the first for the franchise that originated as the Washington Senators in the American League expansion of 1961—that money was well spent.

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Davis paid $593 million to purchase the club back in 2010 from Tom Hicks—not much more than the amount paid to bring the free agent core to Texas. According to Sportico’s latest valuations of Major League Baseball franchises, the Rangers are worth $1.93 billion, ranking 14th out of the 30 clubs. Not bad growth.

“It’s been a long haul, and I’m going to enjoy it,” Davis, now 82, who earned his fortune in energy equity. “They can’t take it away from me. Let’s do it again.”

Davis, who doesn’t do many interviews, was euphoric on Wednesday night after his Rangers won Game 5, 5-0, over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field to take the best-of-seven series in five games.

Now, of the 30 Major League clubs, only the San Diego Padres, Colorado Rockies, Milwaukee Brewers, Tampa Bay Rays and Seattle Mariners have yet to win it all. The Rangers are the last of the four original expansion teams of 1961-62 to win.

“Did I expect this? Yes, I did,” Davis said. “I just didn’t know when we were going to do it. This hasn’t sunk in yet. Ask me tomorrow.”

Does it help change the perception of Dallas being more of a baseball town than a football town?

“We have a long way to go to beat the Cowboys,” Davis said, referring to the football team that hasn’t won the Super Bowl since 1996.

A team is the sum of its parts. Seager was named MVP of the World Series for the second time in four years (he won in 2020 with the Dodgers). Eovaldi won his fifth game of the postseason with his six innings of four-hit, scoreless ball on Wednesday night, outpitching Arizona right-hander Zac Gallen, who had a no-hitter through six innings.

Semien hit a pair of homers and a triple in the final two games, driving in seven runs. Bochy won his fourth World Series, the last one nine years ago when he captured the last of three from 2010-14 with the San Francisco Giants. The four matches Joe Torres’ run with the New York Yankees from 1996-2000.

Bochy had been hired by general manager Chris Young almost a year ago. How did it happen so fast?

“You knew it would be easy,” Bochy quipped during the on-field celebration. “No really, it was the commitment of ownership and [Young] wanting to bring winning baseball back to Texas. Going out and getting some pitching to add to the talent we have on this ballclub. We really thought back in spring training if we’d get to the postseason we’d have a shot.”

In 2022, Davis fired general manager Jon Daniels, who authored a pair of losing World Series efforts—to Bochy’s Giants in 2010 and the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011. He replaced him with Young, who pitched for Bochy when he managed the Padres. Young brought Bochy out of retirement for about $12 million over three years. Bochy was the first manager with any big-league experience the Rangers had hired since they fired Buck Showalter in 2006.

Daniels spent $500 million—$325 million over 10 years on Seager and $175 million over seven years on Semien—prior to the 2022 season. Despite all that spending authorized by Davis, the Rangers finished fourth in the AL West last year with a 68-94 record, 38 games out of first place.

Young was told to keep spending, adding Eovaldi for two years at $34 million, and Jacob deGrom for five years at $185 million before deGrom had to undergo Tommy John surgery and missed the season. At the trade deadline, he added Max Scherzer, paying $22.5 million of his $43.3 million for next season.

The overall payroll jumped to $251.3 million, fourth in MLB. In the end, it was worth every penny, as the Rangers set a new MLB postseason record by winning all 11 of their playoff games on the road.

“This all starts with the vision of Ray Davis and Jon Daniels that got this thing in motion,” Young said. “The commitment to a hard and painful rebuild at a time when you can lose hope very easily. No one understood how things could turn and how quickly something like this could happen.”

Bochy was a huge part of it. He left the Giants in 2019 under a cloud of heart and health problems. In fact, he was tired and didn’t want to work any longer in San Francisco’s transition from general manager Brian Sabean to Farhan Zaidi.

He said Wednesday he was blessed to have sat out the 2020 COVID-shortened season, and he realized wanted to manage again after leading his native France during last year’s World Baseball Classic qualifying round in Germany. (The French team didn’t qualify.)

“Well, I’ll say this: Gradually, after I retired, I started missing the game,” he explained. “Then I was in the dugout at the WBC, and I thought, ‘Man, I really do miss this.’ Finally, [Young] called me to get my appetite on coming back. We talked. And long story short, I’m here. But that’s kind of where it all started.”

Bochy had to get permission from his wife, Kim, to return to the dugout. Kim, who did give her permission, was also on the field Wednesday as the blue confetti flew, and her husband gave her a big hug.

“He’s everybody’s dad,” Davis said about Bochy, 68, and having just concluded his 26th year managing. “He’s cool, calm, and he’s been there. Hiring him was critical.”

Among other things.

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