Corey Seager makes return to LA and Dodgers fans are wondering what could have been

Jun 11, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Texas Rangers infielder Corey Seager is recognized before the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 11, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Texas Rangers infielder Corey Seager is recognized before the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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At the end of the 2021 season, the Dodgers' president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman was at a crossroads. Their 2012 first-round draft pick, 2020 World Series MVP, Rookie of the Year, two-time All-Star shortstop Corey Seager was a free agent, and the Dodgers were presumably the favorites in that race, provided they gave up enough money and years to make it worth Seager's while.

But the Dodgers also had second baseman/shortstop Trea Turner for one more year before he hit free agency. They could lock Seager down, probably for the rest of his career, or they could stockpile money to make a strong play at Turner the year after.

The Dodgers chose Turner and moved him over to shortstop in 2022, while Seager left for the Rangers on a 10-year, $325 million deal. Of course, that didn't work out very well for LA in the end; Turner also left when his free agency came around, heading to the Phillies for 11 years and $300 million.

Turner made his return to Dodger Stadium last season, but Seager had yet to come back since his 2021 departure. He wasn't in Tuesday's lineup for the first game of the Rangers-Dodgers series, but he was in the dugout, and the Dodgers and their fans took a moment to welcome him back and wonder how different things would be if the Dodgers had made a different choice.

Dodgers fans welcome back Corey Seager for first time since his departure in 2022

After losing Turner, the Dodgers made Miguel Rojas their primary shortstop while giving Chris Taylor, Mookie Betts, Amed Rosario, and Kiké Hernández occasional appearances there. We all know what strategy they've employed this season, after the original plan to put Gavin Lux there on his return from injury immediately went south in spring training.

Seager probably should've been a Dodger for life, but the Dodgers bet on the wrong horse, the Rangers got their own World Series MVP, and Seager got the second ring of his career. The Rangers have evidently been missing him, too; the reigning World Series champs are 31-35 and 6.5 games behind the Mariners for first in the AL West.

Seager's been sidelined by injury for the first chunks of both 2023 and 2024, but he's made it clear that he's capable of coming back to the Rangers in later months and performing at a high level, while Dodgers fans can only watch wistfully from afar.

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