The mass exodus of Free Oakland agents continues. And this one might hurt a little.
Marcus Semien, a Bay Area native who turned into an MVP-caliber shortstop, agreed to an $ 18 million one-year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday, as reported by ESPN.
Semien, 30, said after last season he hoped to return to his hometown, and the A’s seemed to be working on bringing Semien back to Oakland, at least for a short time. But $ 18 million would beat her most expensive contract by more than $ 1 million (Khris Davis will make $ 16.5 million next year). The A’s didn’t offer Semien a qualifying offer worth $ 18.9 million in November.
The Blue Jays are in spend mode after recently signing outfielder George Springer on a six-year deal worth $ 150 million. With Jay’s phenomenon Bo Bichette doing shortstop chores, Semien is expected to play mostly on the second base with the Jays as well.
Together with Liam Hendriks, Robbie Grossman and Mike Minor, Semien is now the fourth free agent to leave Oakland this off-season. The A’s had 10 to start.
Who could replace Semien? Unless they’re chasing a new face in the free hand – say Andrelton Simmons – the A’s have some options and lows in the middle infield. Chad Pinder could be an immediate option to slip into a regular shortstop role. Nick Allen, a non-squad participant in spring training, is about a year away from a big league. But the A’s number 4 is known for its eye-catching glove and is expected to be one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball.
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The A’s are used to having loved ones leave and focus their attention on the next one in line. Semien came to Oakland from the Chicago White Sox in 2015 with Chris Bassitt and Josh Phegley. First known for his defensive battles, the A helped him become a solid shortstop (with a lot of help from then infield coach Ron Washington), earning a gold glove nomination in 2019.
Semien’s work in Oakland peaked in 2019 when he hit a career high of 0.285 with an OPS of 0.892 and a 8.9 WAR, the third best of the majors behind Dodgers Cody Bellinger and Astros Alex Bregman . Semien took third place in this year’s MVP vote.