Two new teams can be added to the list of potential Marcus Semien suitors, as SKOR North’s Darren Wolfson reports (Twitter link) that the Twins and Brewers have each spoken with representatives for the free agent shortstop. While Semien might not necessarily join one of those two clubs, Wolfson writes that there is some sense that Semien is “moving closer to a decision.”
Minnesota has been speculatively linked to Semien for months, considering that the Twins have been known to be monitoring the middle infield market as part of their rather broad range of free agent considerations. MLBTR’s Steve Adams wrote back in September that acquiring a new everyday shortstop or second baseman would allow Minnesota to shift either Jorge Polanco or Luis Arraez into super-utility duty, thus effectively filling Marwin Gonzalez’s old role as a Swiss Army knife off the bench.
Or, it isn’t out of the question that Semien could find himself playing elsewhere than shortstop, if the Twins were one of the teams considering him at other infield positions. It’s probably safe to assume that Semien would get the bulk of the action at shortstop in Minnesota, but if he was open to playing some second base (or even third base, to occasionally spell Josh Donaldson), it would further increase manager Rocco Baldelli’s flexibility in regards to lineup construction and in-game maneuvering.
J.A. Happ and Hansel Robles have been added on the pitching side, but the Twins have yet to make a significant position player move this winter. There isn’t yet any news on the Nelson Cruz front, and Minnesota already said goodbye to a notable power bat when Eddie Rosario was non-tendered (though the team hopes that top prospect Alex Kirilloff can immediately step in to fill Rosario’s shoes). Before salaries were reduced last season, the Twins had a non-prorated $132MM payroll projected for 2020 and currently have a little over $100MM committed for the 2021 roster, so there is theoretically room to add at least one more big salary while still not approaching their 2020 spending.
Signing Semien would perhaps be an even more interesting move from the Brewers’ perspective, and it would mark the first big-ticket addition of the offseason within an NL Central that has collectively seemed more focused on cutting payroll than planning to contend. It could be that the division’s general inactivity has given Milwaukee some inspiration in making a move that could separate the team in the playoff race, even if it means stretching the budget to some extent. Granted, there was considerable debate over what Semien’s next contract would look like even in the early days of the offseason, and as we approach February, it’s possible Semien’s asking price has dipped into the Brewers’ range. Milwaukee had a pre-proration payroll of just under $97.5MM in 2020 and are just shy of $85MM in projected payroll for 2021 thanks to some notable contracts (including Ryan Braun) coming off the books.
Semien would immediately solidify a rather uncertain left side of the Milwaukee infield, as Orlando Arcia and Luis Urias are respectively slated as the starting shortstop and third baseman. Daniel Robertson and Jace Peterson have also been added this winter as backup infield options. Similar to the aforementioned scenario with Semien and the Twins, Semien would likely mostly play shortstop in Milwaukee but perhaps also get some work at other infield spots to stay in the lineup every day while the Brew Crew juggles their other players in and out of the lineup.