Marcus Semien is joining the Toronto Blue Jays on a one year deal for $18 million…is it worth it?
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The Toronto Blue Jays have made a flurry of moves over the past week and a bit bringing in a handful of impact players to the team. They shored up their bullpen by adding Tyler Chatwood and Kirby Yates who will most likely start as the closer for the 2021 season.
They then got the guy they’ve wanted since the offseason started by signing George Springer to the largest contract in franchise history. That was just recently followed up by handing out another huge payday to Marcus Semien by paying him $18 million on a one year deal. Was signing Semien really necessary though?
The Blue Jays young guns of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio are all infielders although the latter can play the outfield as well if needed. Heading into the offseason, the middle of the infield seemed set although they could have perhaps brought in a corner infielder with the front office non-tendering Travis Shaw.
Semien is primarily a shortstop although he has minimal experience at second and third. Reports have surfaced that the Blue Jays do plan on using Semien as a second baseman which means that Biggio will most likely be shifting over to third or in an unlikely scenario, become a super-utility player off the bench.
As evidenced by the one year deal they gave him, Semien doesn’t factor into the Blue Jays long term plans as of now. By looking at the Blue Jays organizational depth chart, all the positions are going to be filled down the road with no platoon options. This means that Biggio will eventually be moving back to second base. Since that’s the case, what’s the point of moving him to a different position for one year?
The main reason why the Blue Jays are bringing Semien on board is because they’re hoping he’ll go back to his 2019 form. That season, he slashed a career-best .285/.369/.522 with career-high numbers in every category other than stolen bases which got him a 3rd place finish in AL MVP voting. By looking at his career stats, that season seems like an outlier or in other words, a one-hit-wonder type of season.
Excluding his rookie year where he only appeared in 21 games and his 2019 season, he’s only batted above .250 twice. While his defence has improved in recent seasons, he used to be one of the worst defensive players in the league. In 2015, he made 35 errors. The season after that, 21. While this was understandably quite a while ago, Semien is moving over to a position where he doesn’t have much experience playing and depending on how the season goes, if the Blue Jays indeed move back to Toronto at some point, he’ll be getting ground balls off a turf.
In the 2020 season, Semien batted .223 although his expected batting average (XBA) was .204 which was among the bottom 7% of the league. While Semien didn’t have much of an issue hitting fastballs in 2020, he struggled to hit any other pitch. He batted .138 off breaking balls and .136 off offspeed pitches last season. In 2019, he also fared much better off fastballs than other pitches.
As mentioned before, the Blue Jays are banking on Semien to put up numbers that resemble his 2019 season and are paying him a lot to do so. But it may seem a bit big of an ask.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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