ARLINGTON – If you look at the 2023 World Series, you’ll see stark differences between the Texas Rangers and the Arizona Diamondbacks. But under the surface, you’ll see two teams that have been on the exact same path, even if the journeys were different.
Texas was built to do exactly what they’re doing right now. Two offseasons ago, they went into free agency with the mindset that a superstar was needed in Arlington. But not only did they end up with one, but two, signing second baseman Marcus Semien to a seven-year, $175 million deal. 24 hours later, they inked shortstop Corey Seager to a massive, 10-year, $325 million deal.
But after locking up their middle infield of the future, something was missing from Texas’ recipe for success. And after a failed four-year stint for manager Chris Woodward and half a season by third base coach Tony Beasley, it was time to find the perfect fit. And who would be more perfect to manage a team with postseason expectations than a manager with three World Series championships to his name?
Not only did Bruce Bochy take the reins prior to 2023, he immediately led his team to a place the Rangers were hoping he would – the World Series.
For Arizona, the path back to the World Series began in 2017 after being eliminated by their division rival Los Angeles Dodgers. Very little remains from the team’s last run in October – only first baseman Christian Walker and manager Torey Lovullo. The next few years were bleak in the desert with a mass exodus including players like Paul Goldschmidt, David Peralta, AJ Pollack and others.
Unlike their counterparts from Texas, Arizona don’t have the same resources at their disposal. So a turnaround had to be much more calculated and meticulous, because mistakes would be costly.
Over the next several years that followed, the emphasis was on youth and athleticism, developing players like Ketel Marte, whom they acquired from the Mariners, Gabriel Moreno, acquired from Toronto, Corbin Carroll, Alek Thomas, and even Walker.
Those additions have become something that Arizona has made a habit of making. The biggest being their ace Zac Gallen, whom they acquired in a swap for Jazz Chisholm Jr. But this year, the in-season trades of DH/OF Tommy Pham and closer Paul Sewald have paid huge dividends.
One of baseball’s biggest arguments centers around how teams are built. Do you have to do it like the Rangers and spend big in free agency, or do you have to do it like the D-backs and build slowly? The answer is quite simple, because it’s right in front of us.
The answer is yes, because doing it two different ways got the Rangers and the D-backs to the same place. There will always be cons to both, but these two squads found the right plan for their situation. And it has them both on the verge of a championship.