Bochy missed game, takes over Rangers team he beat for title

Getty Images
1 Comment

ARLINGTON, Texas – Bruce Bochy has won a World Series in Texas, something the Rangers haven’t done. Now he is coming out of a three-year retirement in hopes of getting the home team back there.

Bochy, who won the first of his three World Series titles with the San Francisco Giants in the old Rangers ballpark in 2010, was introduced Monday by the Texas general manager who pitched for the manager in San Diego four years before that.

“One of the things I told Boch when we offered him the job. I said, I’m not doing this because I loved you when I played for you. I’m doing this because we believe as an organization, you’re the right person to lead us into the future,” GM Chris Young said. “Boch fit every part of our criteria.”

Bochy hasn’t managed since 2019, when he stepped away after 13 seasons with the Giants, which followed 12 seasons with the Padres. The top choice in the Rangers search, Bochy was convinced after extended conversations with Young.

“Some have asked why. Well, the simple answer is, I miss this game,” Bochy said. “We talked many hours about the team and the culture that he wanted to create. And I was in.”

The 67-year-old Bochy got a three-year contract. The former big league catcher, who began his playing career in Houston, has 2,003 career wins in his 25 seasons as a manager. He also took the Padres to their last World Series in 1998.

The Rangers were 68-94 this season and had 35 one-run losses, a franchise record. Their six consecutive losing seasons mark the longest streak sin the half-century since the franchise moved to Texas in 1972. Their last winning record was at 10-9 early in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, and they lost 102 games last year.

After clinching the 2010 World Series with a Game 5 victory in Texas, San Francisco added titles in 2012 and 2014. The Rangers returned to the World Series in 2011, and lost in seven games to St. Louis.

“I had a hard time getting over 2010, but then after I got over 2010, I thought was a pretty good idea,” Rangers primary owner Ray Davis said about when Young presented Bochy as his choice before meeting with him. “It took about 10 minutes into the process where I was sold.”

Fourth-year Rangers manager Chris Woodward was fired Aug. 15, two days before the team also let go of president of baseball operations Jon Daniels – who was the GM for their two World Series teams, and division titles in 2015 and 2016.

Bochy takes over a Rangers roster that was bolstered in free agency last offseason with the signings of shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years). Top prospect third baseman Josh Jung was among young players who made their big league debuts or got extended looks this year.

“When I look at this team and I look at the core players, and the deep system and the vision that CY has, I get excited. I just see tons of potential for next year and years beyond,” said Bochy, who was a special adviser for the Giants the past three seasons, and managed Team France in the World Baseball Classic qualifier last month. (Bochy was born on a U.S. Army base in France).

Semien grew up in the San Francisco area rooting for Bochy’s teams, including that 2010 championship.

“It was a special time just seeing what he and that staff built over there,” said Semien, who was at Monday’s introduction. “And I think that we have the talent in the clubhouse to do the same things, and know that we have the support from (Davis) on spending on pitchers and everything like that. So I think we’re heading in the right direction.”

Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker called Bochy one of his favorites guys, and a top manager.

“I wish he was in the other division. But I’m glad he’s back. … A great baseball man, baseball mind. One more for the old dudes,” Baker said before the Astros won the AL Championship Series to get to their fourth World Series in six seasons. “I had a feeling he would be back.”

Baker is the oldest manager in the majors at 73, and Bochy will be the next-oldest. They managed in the same division from 1995 to 2002, when Baker was the Giants manager after Bochy got to the Padres.

Tony Beasley served as interim manager for the final 48 games and was interviewed after the season for the job. The beloved Beasley, the Rangers third base coach since 2015, is staying to be a part of Bochy’s staff.

The last three Rangers managers, all hired by Daniels, hadn’t managed in the big league before: Ron Washington, who led their two World Series teams; Jeff Banister, who won two AL West titles; and Woodward. The last manager who had come to Texas with previous experience in that role was Buck Showalter, who was there from 2003-06.

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today

ARLINGTON, Texas — Jacob deGrom is headed to the free-spending Texas Rangers, who believe the health risk is worth the potential reward in trying to end a six-year run of losing.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday, leaving the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

“We acknowledge the risk, but we also acknowledge that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “And one we feel like is worth taking with a player of Jacob’s caliber.”

Texas announced the signing after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

The team said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings in San Diego.

“It fits in so many ways in terms of what we need,” Young said. “He’s a tremendous person. I have a number of close friends and teammates who played with Jacob and love him. I think he’s going to be just a perfect fit for our clubhouse and our fans.”

Texas had modest expectations after adding Seager, Semien and starter Jon Gray ($56 million, four years) last offseason but still fell short of them.

The Rangers went 68-94, firing manager Chris Woodward during the season, and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Texas’ six straight losing seasons are its worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

Rangers owner Ray Davis said the club wouldn’t hesitate to keep adding payroll. Including the $19.65 million qualifying offer accepted by Martin Perez, the team’s best pitcher last season, the Rangers have spent nearly $761 million in free agency over the past year.

“I hate losing, but I think there’s one person in our organization who hates losing worse than me, and I think it’s Ray Davis,” Young said. “He’s tired of losing. I’m tired of losing. Our organization is tired of losing.”

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

That ended his deal with the Mets at $107 million over four years, and deGrom rejected their $19.65 million qualifying offer in November. New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

The Rangers visit Citi Field from Aug. 28-30.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons. He gets $30 million next year, $40 million in 2024 and 2025, $38 million in 2026 and $37 million in 2027. The deal includes a conditional option for 2028 with no guaranteed money.

The addition of deGrom gives the Rangers three proven starters along with Gray and Perez, who went 12-8 with a career-best 2.89 ERA in his return to the team that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela. Young didn’t rule out the addition of another starter.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation.

Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.