This past offseason, the Toronto Blue Jays had three to four key players heading to free agency and the front office had reportedly been given the green light to spend from ownership, trying to improve upon the 91-71 finish the year prior that was just short of the playoffs.
Whether it was via trade or free agency, the Blue Jays were linked to numerous rumours for both pitchers and position players, who had the ability to make this lineup better overall to try and push for postseason glory.
By the time Opening Day rolled around, the Jays had signed Kevin Gausman, Yimi Garcia, Yusei Kikuchi, and David Phelps (MiLB deal) while also trading for Raimel Tapia and Matt Chapman, creating a stronger defensive presence while also letting Randal Grichuk play somewhere he will receive regular playing time, which was not guaranteed in Toronto.
Looking back, the Blue Jays found themselves entangled with quite a few different players, with some receiving a ‘kick at the tires’ check-in while others received legitimate offers, only to sign elsewhere before the season began.
Let’s take a look back at some of the players who stood out from amongst this group and how they are doing so far this year as we get past the quarter mark of the season
Signed a seven-year, $175 million contract with the Texas Rangers
Signing with the Jays on a one-year prove-it deal for the 2021 campaign, Marcus Semien became one of the top players in the league by the start of October. He finished third in AL MVP voting while adding an impressive 45 home runs and a .873 OPS, earning a Gold Glove Award, Silver Slugger, and an All-Star appearance for his efforts.
The Blue Jays did attempt to extend Semien before the season was over but there was no way they were going to beat the seven-year pact the Rangers were willing to give him, and the seventh year was reportedly what got the deal done. A career year netted him a monster payday and the Blue Jays ended up with draft pick compensation as a result.
So far this season, Semien has struggled with his new club, sporting a .477 OPS while manning second base for the Rangers. He currently does not have a home run on the year and owns a .181 batting average along with some of the lowest percentiles across numerous offensive categories per Baseball Savant. While he did have a rough April with the Jays last year, the trend bucked off for Semien in May and it appears that he still hasn’t found a groove with his new club just yet, evidenced by -0.1 bWAR on the year.
It is obviously too early to consider whether this deal is a bust (given there are six more to go), but it looks like the initial reaction to this deal is not in a positive tone.