The Toronto Blue Jays made a flurry of off-season moves last winter, signing George Springer to a six-year deal while also signing Marcus Semien, Kirby Yates, David Phelps, Tyler Chatwood, and Robbie Ray to one year contracts. While Yates and Phelps are now currently on the 60-day injured (and done for the season) and Springer missed a good chunk of the season already, both Ray and Semien have been good signings and are contributing to the team rather than being hindrances.
This season, Marcus Semien took a one-year “prove it” deal with the Blue Jays after coming off a rough campaign in 2020. Semien was basically trying to re-up his value, attempting to find the same form fans saw in 2019 with the Oakland Athletics where he would play in all 162 games while slashing .285/.369/.522 with seven triples, 33 home runs, 92 RBI, and a .892 OPS.
So far this campaign, the California native is worth every penny of the $18 million the Jays signed him for, slashing .293/.357/.555 with 21 home runs, 54 RBI, and a .912 OPS. He currently leads all second baseman in the league in terms of OPS and home runs and was just recently named to the AL All-Star team as a starter. After a rough start to the year back in April, the right-handed hitter came back with a vengeance in May and continued to produce in June, leading off for the Blue Jays and finding ways to get on base and putting runs on the scoreboard.
Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Marcus Semien will become a free agent at the end of the campaign, leading some to wonder if the organization should sign him to an extension or let him walk as the season reaches the halfway point in the year.
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It’s safe to say that the gamble he took this off-season has paid off so far for the middle infielder, with the potential for a lucrative contract this upcoming winter if he does test the free-agent waters. That being said, is it possible that the Blue Jays will bring back Semien after his current contract expires?
The first step for general manager Ross Atkins and co. will be whether to extend Semien a qualifying offer or not when the season is over.
The second baseman is eligible after the Athletics did not offer him one last year and there is the possibility that Semien could sign a QO if presented by the Jays, which will be around the same area he is currently making in terms of salary. Semien could also reject the QO and become a free agent, looking for a more lucrative long-term contract whether that be with the Jays’ or another organization, but the club will at least receive draft pick compensation if he does sign elsewhere and rejects the offer. With the season he is having, I would guess he is going to reject the QO and test free agency but he could accept the deal to build more value and possibly wait for a weaker 2023 free-agent class.
The Blue Jays could also choose to explore the infield market this upcoming off-season, as the free-agent market is poised to be one of the deepest in recent history when it comes to infield talent.
As of right now, Semien alongside SS Trevor Story, SS Javier Baez, SS Carlos Correa, 3B Kris Bryant, and SS Corey Seager are all going to be free agents this off-season, with almost every team in the league fighting to sign each one when the time comes. The Jays could try and land a potentially younger fish like Story or Baez and let Semien walk, a risky move if the organization comes up empty-handed with a hole at second base to begin the season.
Alternatively, the front office could let Semien sign elsewhere and use an internal replacement up the middle like Jordan Groshans, Kevin Smith, Santiago Espinal, or Austin Martin at either second base or shortstop. The Jays’ could even move Cavan Biggio back to second and have the prospects battle it out for third base if they so choose or sign a third baseman like Bryant instead of a replacement up the middle. Another risky move if the prospect chosen to take over the role starts to struggle or no proven free agent is signed, leaving a hole in the lineup.
While we could talk about the different scenarios until we are blue in the face, it ultimately comes down to how much money Marcus Semien would want for a long-term contract if he does become a free agent.
Personally, a deal around the 4 year – $80 million area seems fair at this point, especially since the likes of Baez, Correa, and Story or going to command contracts larger in value than what Semien should cost. Hell, the ~$20 million per year could be a low ball when all is said and done this season.
Some may see that as an overpay and that’s fine, but if Semien does become a free agent and continues to have the season over the entire year, he could command more years and a lot more money if other teams are willing to take a chance on the right-handed hitter, especially if some of the other infield talent are already off the board.
He is a top-of-the-order type of hitter who can steal bases, hit for power, and isn’t heading into the “past prime” years yet when he is 31 years old come October, so it’s understandable that teams will have to cough up some salary to put pen to paper.
Do you want to see Semien return to the Blue Jays next season and beyond (if the price is right) or should the team let him walk and use the money elsewhere on the roster?