Over two months into free agency, shortstop Marcus Semien remains without a team. It’s not for lack of interest, however, as Jim Bowden of The Athletic tweets that the Athletics, Phillies, Reds and Red Sox have all been part of negotiations with Semien “to some extent.” It’s isn’t known how serious any of those discussions have gotten, however.
Semien, 30, spent the previous six years in Oakland, where he was regularly an average or better starter. He reached a new level in 2019, an MVP-caliber season in which he didn’t miss a game and posted 7.6 fWAR with a .285/.369/.522 line and 33 home runs, but wasn’t able to replicate those otherworldly stats last year. Semien bounced back to a major degree as the year progressed, however, evidenced by a 64 wRC+ in the first half and a 126 mark in the second.
Even though the A’s made it known on multiple occasions during and after the season that they wanted Semien back, they did not give him an $18.9MM qualifying offer. Now, considering he could price himself out of the team’s range in free agency, it seems doubtful low-budget Oakland will win the bidding for Semien. Thanks in part to the pandemic, the A’s don’t seem as if they’ll spend much this winter.
Philadelphia and Cincinnati appear to be more realistic fits for Semien, who would certainly address their gaping holes at shortstop. The Phillies could plug him in to replace Didi Gregorius, another notable veteran shortstop who’s currently a free agent. Freddy Galvis is a free agent for the Reds, meanwhile, leaving Jose Garcia as at least the temporary front-runner to start for them next season. Garcia doesn’t appear ready for that role, though: He never played above High-A ball before last year, when he reached the majors and batted .194/.206/.194 with no home runs, 26 strikeouts and one walk in 68 plate appearances.
Unlike Oakland, Philadelphia and Cincinnati, Boston is targeting Semien as a second baseman, per Bowden. That isn’t surprising, as it was reported last month that teams have shown interest in Semien as an option at the keystone this offseason. Boston already has a set left side of the infield with shortstop Xander Bogaerts and third baseman Rafael Devers, but it still has to sort out second – a position that isn’t foreign to Semien. He played 77 games there as a minor leaguer and another 29 in the bigs with the White Sox from 2013-14.
Along with where he’ll go, an obvious question centering on Semien is how much it will take to sign him. When the offseason began, MLBTR predicted Semien would reel in a one-year, $14MM contract, but as Steve Adams wrote in November, others have been far more bullish in regards to his forthcoming deal. If teams are confident Semien is more the player he was in 2019 and in the second half of 2020, he could indeed collect a substantial payday over multiple years.