After a career year in 2019, Marcus Semien struggled to find his footing in the shortened 2020 season. Semien played in all 162 games in 2019. He combined superb defense and a strong bat to place third in American League MVP voting. Despite a not-so-good 2020, he should be able to earn a fairly lofty contract because of the small sample size. Teams will likely look at his 2019 numbers and hope he can return to that form in 2021. With that in mind, let’s take a look at his market this offseason.
Semien was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 34th round of the 2008 MLB Draft out of St. Mary’s High School. But instead, he opted to go to college at the University of California, Berkeley. He was again drafted by the White Sox in the sixth round of the 2011 MLB Draft. Semien made his Major League debut in September 2013 after entering the season ranked as the White Sox number eight prospect. In his first at-bat, he recorded his first hit off of future Hall of Fame pitcher CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees. Then, on September 23 he whacked his first major league home run off J.A. Happ of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Following the 2014 season, the White Sox sent Semien, Chris Bassitt, Rangel Ravelo, and Josh Phegley to the Oakland Athletics for Jeff Samardzija and Michael Ynoa. He started the 2015 season as the A’s starting shortstop. The strong defense that he displays now didn’t come without a ton of hard work and initial struggles. In the 2015 season, Semien committed a major-league worst 35 errors. After the season the A’s hired Ron Washington to work with him on his defense. Every season afterward he has made vast improvements and is now one of the top defensive shortstops in the league.
Since 2018, Semien has the sixth-best defensive runs saved (21), fourth-best UZR (17.1), and fifth-best UZR/150 (5.4) among all shortstops. He was a top-three finalist for a Gold Glove in 2018 and 2019. The 30-year old shortstop fractured his wrist in 2017 which required surgery. He only played in 85 games that season. Semien led the league in assists with 459 in 2018. After making drastic improvements to his defense in 2018, the bat was next to improve mightily in 2019. He led the majors with 747 plate appearances and hit .285/.369/.522 with a career-high 33 homers.
Semien earned $13 million in 2020 and will now look to get a multi-year deal. His agent, Joel Wolfe, believes he will earn a hefty contract worth north of $100 million. He will probably be the most sought after free agent shortstop on the market and earn the biggest deal. The shortstop market will probably be waiting on what happens with Francisco Lindor.
Top Landing Spots
The Reds’ biggest need this offseason is filling their hole at shortstop that produced the lowest WAR in the majors last season. Freddy Galvis struggled with just a .220 average, while prospect Jose Garcia has yet to play above high-A. Garcia hit just .194 with 26 strikeouts to one walk in 2020. The Reds need impact bats in their lineup which was evident in their inability to score any runs in the Wild Card series against the Atlanta Braves. Semien would be exactly what they need offensively and defensively at the position.
The Phillies are looking to move Jean Segura and have gotten some interest from teams like the Blue Jays. If he is moved, the Phillies will need to either re-sign Didi Gregorius or look elsewhere. They aren’t afraid to spend and could throw money at Semien, who is an upgrade defensively to Gregorius.
The A’s decided not to give Semien the one-year $18.9 million qualifying offer, but that doesn’t mean he won’t return. He could possibly take a discount to stay with the hometown team for a one-year deal. That will likely only happen if he doesn’t earn his desired AAV on the market. With Tommy La Stella also a free agent, they will have two big holes in the middle of the infield if both of them walk.
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