Reload the Cavalry, Bring Back the Big Guns
For Jays’ fans to truly be optimistic about progressing through the minefield that is the AL East, one, if not both of Semien and Ray must be retained.
Detractors of the front office duo Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro will say that they will do anything to avoid shelling out a big payday but that’s not true. The Springer and Ryu contracts showed they are willing to be generous with both term and dollar value if the shoe fits.
Obviously, the fit with both players is there. Ray transformed himself from a pitcher with control issues to a dominant power arm with minimal walks.
Semien has expressed his desire to return to his natural position of shortstop but that really shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. He’s coming off a season in which he smashed his career-high for homers with 45 (previous high 33) and his swing and Rogers Centre seem to be a match made in heaven.
The other thing that’s so valuable about both Ray and Semien in addition to their production and leadership is their durability.
After suffering an elbow bruise and missing his first outing of the year Ray went on to start 32 games and pitch a career-high 193.1 innings. Semien comes to the ballpark to work every day and was one of only two players (Whit Merrifield was the other) to play in all 162 games. During a season that saw a ton of injuries around the game after a shortened 2020 campaign, the durability of the veterans was significant.