The Blue Jays will have some level of interest in retaining their star second baseman in Marcus Semien, but how many other bidders could be in the mix?
What makes that question even more difficult to answer is the fact that Semien could be viewed as a second baseman, a shortstop, or possibly even a third baseman, although I don’t expect that latter to happen. Either way though, that flexibility expands the list of possibilities for the 31 year old when it comes to his next contract, and could make the job of re-signing him a lot more difficult for Ross Atkins and the front office team.
The biggest part of the battle in retaining Semien will be coming an agreeable term in both dollars and years, and it won’t make it any easier now that he’s being represented by Scott Boras. The other significant factor will be how many teams are bidding for his services, and just how much leverage Boras and Semien ultimately have on the situation.
As I survey the league just a few days ahead of the start of free agency, I’ve come up with a list of teams that I think could be looking for a middle infielder. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll be bidding on Semien, but with a player of his quality I can’t imagine there are many teams that have totally ruled it out.
This list is purely my own speculation (naturally aided by the already moving rumour mill), so feel free to disagree with me in the comments, and/or add any teams that I’ve missed.
Blue Jays– I figured I’d just get this one out of the way off the top. The Jays would love to have him back as their second baseman, and the fit worked beautifully in 2021. It’s just a matter of if the Blue Jays are willing to make the space for him in their payroll, both now and more importantly, in the future.
Yankees– It’s no secret that the Bronx Bombers are ready to move away from the idea of Gleyber Torres as a shortstop. They’re going to have some challenges when it comes to payroll, but it’s hard to imagine that they’ll leave the offseason without addressing a blatant weakness. Maybe that means they’ll seek a cheaper alternative like Andrelton Simmons, but I mean… it’s the Yankees. Expect them to be one of the most frequently mentioned teams in the rumour mill, including when it comes to Semien in particular.
White Sox– Don’t rule the White Sox out as a potentially aggressive bidder when it comes to addressing second base. They’re set at shortstop with Tim Anderson, but Semien would work very well with the rest of this emerging group. He wouldn’t leave to go play for La Russa though, would he?
Tigers– Detroit should have some money to spend this offseason, and I’ve seen them mentioned when it comes to guys like Carlos Correa. It might not work with their rebuilding efforts to sign a free agent that’s on the wrong side of 30 like Semien, but he’d make for a heck of a clubhouse leader for a young group too. The Blue Jays definitely benefitted from his presence in that way in 2021.
Astros– Will they replace Correa if he goes? My guess is that they will, and if they could sign a player like Semien to a shorter and cheaper contract than the one Correa is bound to receive, I’m not ruling it out. That would just… awful.
Mariners– Much like the White Sox, the Mariners could use a premium second baseman to add to their emerging club. Semien makes a ton of sense here too, and I expect that Seattle will be calling Mr. Boras about the possibility.
Rangers– Rumoured to be ready to spend this offseason, the Rangers could be looking to make a splash with their middle infield. Like Detroit, my guess is that they target a younger option.
Phillies– I can’t see any way that the Phillies enter next season with Didi Gregorios as their starting shortstop again. I expect them to be actively looking for someone to take that role.
Mets– If the Mets can’t re-sign Javier Baez, I expect they’ll look for a star to pair with Francisco Lindor in New York. Will anyone want to sign up for that after the way their front office search has gone? They should be an interesting team to watch.
Cubs– After trading nearly everyone from their World Series championship team, it’s time to start the rebuild off properly. They have plenty of payroll room to make a splash, and I view them in much the same way that I do Texas and Detroit.
Giants– With Buster Posey’s retirement announcement, they only have 48 million in salary committed to next season’s payroll, and roughly 18-20 million more in arbitration. They were the surprise team in baseball in 2021 and they have the money to make significant upgrades. I expect they’ll do just that, and while Brandon Crawford is sticking around to play shortstop, I’m sure they’d love a guy like Semien at second base.
Dodgers– The Dodgers have had an incredible run, and they’re going to do everything they can to extend it. That said, they have a lot of significant free agent decisions to make including Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, and their star shortstop, Corey Seager. If they can’t retain Seager then I suspect they’ll be in the market for a replacement. As much as I hate to admit it, Semien makes sense here too.
And there you have it, my list of teams that I believe will be on the hunt for middle infield help. The star-studded group will include the likes of Semien, Correa, Baez, Seager, Trevor Story, and more, and even though it’s a deep class, there will likely be more bidders than premium free agents available. That also means that if the Blue Jays are serious about retaining Semien or finding his replacement via free agency, they’re going to have to be ready to sign a big, fat cheque.