The Blue Jays should count it as a positive that Marcus Semien hired Scott Boras as his new representation, and they should also receive the message.
Any baseball fan that has been following the game for a while will be familiar with Boras as the most famous player agent there is. He’s represented some of the biggest stars that Major League Baseball has ever seen, and has negotiated some of the largest contracts in the history of the sport.
Up until a few years ago, Blue Jays fans would shudder at the mention of his name. At that point it felt like Boras’ clients wouldn’t even consider Toronto as a viable option in free agency, and that kind of influence likely hurt their chances to acquire several impact players. That all started to change two years ago when the Jays handed Hyun Jin Ryu a four-year contract worth 80 million, and Boras took notice when the Jays signed George Springer to a massive six-year, 150 million dollar pact last winter. The super agent commented that the Jays were becoming what they “could and should be” as an aggressive bidder in free agency.
Thankfully the relationship with Boras has improved under Ross Atkins’ leadership in the front office, and that could come in handy if they’re serious about keeping Semien in Toronto. It remains to be seen if they’re going to meet the demands, but having Boras in the fold should actually help Atkins and his team in some ways.
First, Boras knows that the Jays can be a legitimate bidder for his new client’s services, especially as an up and coming team that could be on the cusp of greatness. They have the payroll space, the familiarity with the player, and a good working relationship. All of those things matter, and Boras knows that as well as anyone.
Secondly and probably most significant, the Jays should now understand the message that Semien is sending, which is that he’s not going to settle for his next contract. Boras’ clients are notorious for waiting until deep into the offseason, sometimes even into Spring Training, but it almost always works out. If Semien planned on signing an extension or even being motivated to work out an early deal with the Blue Jays, involving Boras wouldn’t have been necessary. To me, this is a clear sign that Semien is strapping in for the long haul, and swinging for the fences. That makes sense as a 31 year old coming off of his best season, as this is probably his best and last chance for a huge pay day.
And speaking of that pay day, that’s the third point of clarity that the Jays should now fully understand. There will be no bargain for Semien’s services this time around. Not that they should have expected that anyway, but one way or another they’re going to have to offer a significant contract to keep their star second baseman in a Blue Jays uniform.
Boras will have other big clients to worry about this offseason such as Max Scherzer, Corey Seager, Kris Bryant, and more, but adding a player of Semien’s quality is yet another big win for their agency. Thankfully it’s not the death knell that it would have been for the Blue Jays even a few years ago, and if nothing else, they should have a better understanding of what they’re getting into.