The Blue Jays signing Marcus Semien has turned out to be a fantastic decision, but that still doesn’t mean that this great match will last for long.
I say that because Semien signed a one-year, 18 million dollar pact with the Jays this offseason, and the arrangement worked for both parties for a variety of reasons. For Semien, it gave him a chance to re-establish his value after a down 2020 campaign that followed a 3rd place finish in AL MVP voting in 2019. So far, he’s done just that as he’s slashing .282/.350/.531 with 11 home runs, 28 RBI, and eight stolen bases, looking a lot more like that player from two seasons ago.
For the Blue Jays, not having to make a long-term commitment to Semien made a lot of sense when looking at the situation this past offseason. First, they didn’t know what version of the former Oakland A’s star they would receive, and so far their one year gamble has paid off in a big way. On top of that, they really didn’t necessarily want to make a long-term commitment to a veteran infielder, not with top prospects like Austin Martin, Jordan Groshans, and even Orelvis Martinez waiting in the pipeline.
Now that Semien is thriving as a Blue Jay and fitting like a glove, I’m sure there are plenty of folks who wish he would have signed a longer contract, myself included. You can’t go back in time though, so now the Jays have to continue to monitor and evaluate the situation as they go this year, and it’s entirely possible that an extension will work for both sides.
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Having said that, I’m willing to bet that Semien will get a better offer than what the Blue Jays can justify when that time rolls around. Martin and/or Groshans could be pushing for a big league opportunity by that point, and a rookie salary is a lot easier to fit in the budget than Semien’s 18 million he’s making this season, and that figure may rise when he signs a new deal.
On top of that, the Blue Jays are going to need to invest in other areas of the team as they continue to pursue putting together a roster that can compete for a World Series title. The most obvious area would be in the starting rotation, as they’ll continue to look for upgrades, and both Robbie Ray and Steven Matz are due to become free agents again as well. As outstanding as Semien has been, it’s still very likely that the Blue Jays will use that salary to improve the rotation, or maybe even look at an extension for one of their many valuable young stars.
I could be totally wrong about the plans for the future, but the more I look at the situation the more I think Semien’s stay in Toronto will be for one successful season. If that’s the case, the Blue Jays absolutely need to take advantage of having an extra MVP calibre player in their lineup. No, I’m not saying that Semien is going to win the MVP award or even get serious consideration, but he entered last night’s game with 2.1 bWAR, and we’re barely more than a quarter of the way through the year.
If and when George Springer can finally make it back to the lineup, this Blue Jays batting order is going to be a nightmare for opposing pitchers. Semien has been a fantastic leadoff man, but chances are he’ll give up the spot in favour of Springer when he is healthy enough to play. Moving someone like Semien to 5th or 6th in the lineup is a luxury that most teams simply don’t have, and it’s pretty fun to think about the damage this group could do:
1- Springer (CF)
2- Bichette (SS)
3- Vlad Jr. (1B)
4- Hernandez (DH)
5- Semien (2B)
6- Grichuk (RF)
7- Gurriel Jr. (LF)
8- Jansen (C)
9- Biggio (3B)
It’s an embarrassment of riches, and is made all that better because of the way that Semien has bounced back and brought big value to his new team, also rewarding the front office for their one-year gamble.
This team still needs to see some improvements from their starting rotation, and hopefully a lot better health from their bullpen arms, but you can’t help but see the makings of a dangerous team come playoff time. An experienced veteran like Semien could be a crucial guy to have around when that time comes, and hopefully the Blue Jays can take full advantage of the opportunity, for however long he’s on the roster.