The Dodgers were in the mix for DJ LeMahieu prior to his agreement to return to the Yankees, but Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic cautions that L.A.’s miss on LeMahieu doesn’t guarantee a reunion with Justin Turner at third base. The Dodgers are mulling potential alternatives at the hot corner, per Rosenthal, including longtime A’s shortstop Marcus Semien.
There’s surely an aspect of due diligence at play here. President of baseball ops Andrew Friedman and his crew wouldn’t be doing their jobs if they didn’t consider all avenues, but Semien nevertheless creates an interesting option for the Dodgers — particularly if he’s signed to a multi-year deal. Corey Seager wouldn’t be displaced for Semien in 2021, Rosenthal notes, but Seager is a free agent next winter. Semien would give the Dodgers a fallback in the event that Seager signs elsewhere upon reaching the open market. As a Scott Boras client, he seems unlikely to sign an extension this spring.
The market for Semien has yet to fully take shape, as is the case with most position players in this glacial free agency period. The Reds and Phillies are among the teams known to be looking for a shortstop, and the Twins have increasingly been reported to be considering shortstop additions as well. Fansided’s Robert Murray reported awhile back that Semien had garnered interest at other positions; his ability to play an above-average shortstop should carry over and allow him to play quality defense at a less-demanding position like second or third.
The question regarding Semien, of course, is what to expect from him at the plate. His 2020 season didn’t come close to his MVP-caliber 2019 campaign, although it’s also at least anecdotally worth pointing out that Semien improved after a slow start to the year and raked through Oakland’s eight-game playoff run. That’s a small sample, of course, but that’s true of the entire 2020 season.
In many ways, Semien exemplifies the difficulty in evaluating a player during this year’s two-month slate of games. His agents at Wasserman surely will argue that 2019 was the beginning of a breakout and that his torrid finish to the year shows he was on his way to replicating that production over a larger sample. More skeptical teams might point to the fact that Semien was more of a league-average bat prior to 2019. An average hitter capable of providing above-average defense at shortstop is still a very good player, but there’d be a major gap between how that player and the 2019 Semien are compensated.
There’s no evidence that Semien is any sort of priority for the Dodgers at the moment, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to hear that they’ve also considered a handful of other options. Turner, after all, is reported to be seeking a four-year contract that’d run through his age-39 season, so it’s more than understandable if the Dodgers and other clubs are mulling alternatives.
It’s also worth noting, too, that the Dodgers appear willing to spend at the position. Pat Ragazzo, who first reported the terms of LeMahieu’s agreement to return to the Bronx, also reported that the Dodgers offered LeMahieu a four-year deal worth a total of $60MM. That’s two years and $30MM shy of where he landed, of course, but we don’t know when that offer came in, either. A reunion with Turner seems likelier than a deal with Semien, but it’s still of some note that Los Angeles was seemingly willing to go multiple years at a significant rate for an infielder other than Turner.