Next in our Contender November series, we examine shortstop/second baseman Marcus Semien and whether he should be the long-term solution for the Detroit Tigers in the middle infield.
There was a time early in his career in the major leagues when Marcus Semien was a light-hitting shortstop who didn’t necessarily make up for his offense on the defensive side. Semien was prone to miscues that would get legendary (or infamous if you wish) White Sox announcer Ken “The Hawk” Harrelson to mutter a simple “mercy” into his mic.
Times have definitely changed for Marcus Semien.
Where does Marcus Semien fit in Detroit?
Semien, who was awarded a Gold Glove at second base on Sunday evening, would immediately slide to another side of the infield to take over as the Tigers shortstop. Once there he’s become the best overall player to fill the position in Detroit since Alan Trammell was in his prime.
Shortstop has been mostly a placeholder position with guys brought in mainly via trade in Detroit over the years while they were contending. Either a no-hit glove whiz like Jose Iglesias or Adam Everett or a power bat/slow guy like Jhonny Peralta or Carlos Guillen has held the spot. Edgar Renteria was brought in as a savior for the spot just as his career was about to die.
Semien might be in his 30’s, but he’s shown excellent athleticism in the field which would be an immediate plus for the Tigers defensively. The Willi Castro-type tryout era at shortstop would end immediately.
Semien’s proficiency at second-base also provides a very simple solution if Tigers rising prospect Ryan Kreidler emerges as a real option at shortstop in due course.
It’s offensively however where Semien would truly spark a difference in Detroit. The Tigers had an incredibly weak offense in ‘21 lacking in power first and foremost. Meanwhile, Semien was in Toronto putting up MVP-ish numbers for the second time in three years. Semien slugged .538 for the Blue Jays while cranking out 86 extra-base hits, 45 of them homers, and chipping in 15 steals in 16 tries.
Semien would immediately man one of the top 4 spots in AJ Hinch’s lineup and give the Tigers the power bat they sorely lack while waiting for top 10 prospects in all of MLB Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene to join him.
What will Marcus Semien demand on the FA market?
Much has been made about Semien needing to take a one-year deal for $18M in Toronto. Some call it Semien winning a bet on his future. If you care to call it that way, he definitely should cash a winning ticket after the year he had in Toronto. He’ll hit the free-agent market as one of the most dangerous hitters available who plays well at marquee defensive positions.
It was only a year ago where timid teams such as Detroit sat out pursuing the upper reaches of the free-agent market. Semien was also coming from a poor season Oakland in the 60 games COVID season as did many others. Semien’s market was not nearly as widespread as he should find it now.
Fox Sports reporter JP Morosi indicates Semien may prefer a west coast team in free agency and points to Seattle as very interested. This might be the case but we’ve heard reasons why plenty of players might target zones of the country before only to be swayed by the length of contract and dollar signs. If Detroit wants Semien, Chris Ilitch can make it happen if he desires.
Semien has been one of the best players in the American League the last two full seasons that have been played. He might be termed as only the third most valuable SS on the market after Carlos Correa and Corey Seager. Semien might wait until those two signs to see where the market takes shape.
However, after a big season where he made $18M it’s a safe bet, he’ll find suitors in the $25M to $28M AAV range on his new deal. It’s also a good bet here the team willing to give a 5th year in some fashion will haul Semien on board.
If the Tigers want to lure Semien to their corner of the AL Central it would seem that 5th season is a crucial commitment. A 5-year deal at $135M should be in the running to secure the hard-hitting Semien.