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Blue Jays: Marcus Semien made the right decision

Jun 5, 2021; Buffalo, New York, USA; Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Marcus Semien (10) reacts after hitting a double during the third inning against the Houston Astros at Sahlen Field. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 5, 2021; Buffalo, New York, USA; Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Marcus Semien (10) reacts after hitting a double during the third inning against the Houston Astros at Sahlen Field. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports /
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It doesn’t always work out when players over 30 years old bet on themselves, but there’s no doubt that Marcus Semien made the right decision to sign with the Blue Jays last offseason.

The California native spoke to the media earlier this week and talked about the decision he made to sign a one-year deal with the Jays rather than accepting a multi-year offer elsewhere. There were a lot of factors at play, and Semien and his agent had a pretty big decision to make.

After having finished 3rd in AL MVP voting during the 2019 season with the Oakland A’s, Semien wasn’t the same guy during the 60-game campaign in 2020. His slash line dropped from .285/.369/.522 down to .223/.305/.375, and the power numbers weren’t there either. In 2019 the veteran contributed 33 home runs, 43 doubles and 92 RBI, also chipping in 10 stolen bases over 162 games played. Granted it was only 53 games played last season, but he was down to just seven home runs, nine doubles, and 23 RBI. His bWAR dropped from an elite 8.6 down to just 0.5 (or roughly 1.5 bWAR over a full season).

Taking a one-year deal to re-establish his value seems like a no-brainer, but there are and were several factors to consider with this big decision. As previously mentioned, Semien is now 30 years old, and while he’s definitely still in his prime, there’s no doubt that front offices look at the game through a younger lens these days. especially with long-term deals. Semien will be 31 when he hits free agency again this winter, and he’s probably looking at a max of a 5-6 year offer if I had to take an early guess.

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Another thing working against Semien next winter will be a robust shortstop market, one that could includes the likes of Trevor Story, Javier Baez, Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, Andrelton Simmons and more. For teams looking for an anchor for their infield, there will be some premium options available to the highest bidder, and it’s looking like there will be a lot of teams in the mix.

One of the difficult parts of convincing Semien to sign with the Blue Jays was the fact that he’d have to move to second base in order to fit with their current roster. Bo Bichette has a firm grip on shortstop at the moment, so it meant he’d have to move away from his preferred position, and one that generally brings more money in free agency. That said, that decision may be a bonus for Semien as well when it comes time to negotiate next winter.

The former Oakland A’s star has made a seamless transition to the left side of the 2nd base bag, providing a legitimate defensive asset to the Blue Jays’ infield. He’s also made five starts as the shortstop when Bichette was getting a day off or a start as the designated hitter, giving him an occasional opportunity to show off his abilities at his natural position. He’s worked very well with Bichette as a double play combination, and so far Baseball Reference has him being worth 0.7 dWAR, and a total bWAR mark of 3.0 through 56 games.

Instead of moving to second base working against Semien, it could actually help his cause when he looks for a new contract. The market for second basemen is nowhere near as exciting, with the likes of Starlin Castro, Chris Taylor, and maybe Jurickson Profar (player option) headlining the list of projected free agents. None of those players offer even half of the upside that Semien can bring to the table, so having real experience at second base on his resume can only help.

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With a slash line of .299/.368/.540 with 13 home runs, 13 doubles, 32 RBI and eight stolen bases, Semien is on pace for his best season ever. He may not keep up this level of production all year long, but he doesn’t even have to in order to be an elite contributor, and I think it’s safe to say that he made the right decision to bet on himself last winter. Even if it only turns out to be a one-year relationship for the Blue Jays, what a home run of a deal.

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