The Toronto Blue Jays are trying to extend Marcus Semien, but if they can’t, they will be just fine moving forward
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The Toronto Blue Jays took an $18M gamble on Marcus Semien last offseason and to say it is paying off is an understatement. The 30 year old middle infielder is approaching 6 fWAR with 35 homers and a 131 wRC+. There have been reports that Toronto has tried to extend him already this season, but they have not been successful. While it would be great to keep his production in the lineup for a few more years, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if they didn’t.
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Semien is leading the league in plate appearances and may even get some votes for American League MVP. He has silenced any doubt that he could replicate his 2019 showing, where he finished 3rd in MVP voting. There is no doubt that signing him last winter has paid off, even if it was somewhat confusing at the time.
Semien signed on the condition that he see the bulk of his time in the middle infield. The Blue Jays, having Bo Bichette at short agreed to give Semien second base and move Cavan Biggio to third. It is likely that Semien (and his agent) will market him as a short stop, one who comes with elite hitting. And, his 2021 season would support that. He will enter free agency as one of the top targets out there. Setting aside the labour negotiations between MLB and MLBPA, Marcus Semien is going to get PAID. It is completely understandable that he would not jump at an extension offer just yet.
In fact, he may never sign an extension in Toronto. He used his one year to prove himself and is said to be looking for a job closer to home on the West Coast. And, Blue Jays fans should not be worried about that. The team will be just fine if he signs elsewhere. Toronto may extend a qualifying offer, but it will surely be rejected. It would be nice if he stayed in Toronto (and played third base), but everything will be just fine without him.
Looking ahead to the 2022 season, the Blue Jays can put Biggio back at second and he’ll be just fine, at least defensively, which is better than what we saw with him playing the hot corner. Of course, the immediate reaction to this is to say that Biggio will not produce nearly at the same level. You can reasonably expect 20 home runs, 15 stolen bases and an OBP of at least .350. Those are good numbers, but they are certainly not Semien-esque. So, it makes sense that Toronto would want to extend him and it would make sense that fans would want him to stay.
That’s what makes this an unpopular opinion. However, signing Semien is not an absolute priority. It would be nice, but it is not vital to the future success of the team. When you consider other priorities, it becomes less important. For example, extending Robbie Ray should be priority number 1. It will take a lot, but future success does require Ray to stay in Toronto. As well, Toronto needs an answer at third base. That should be another priority. Now, if Semien is willing to be that answer, then sign him up. But, that is not likely unless he is blown away with an offer.
This is why Semien leaving will be OK. Toronto can find themselves a proper answer at third and make up whatever offense they lose. Let’s all pause to dream on a trade for Jose Ramirez. Now wake up. That kind of trade will cost a heavy price and we shouldn’t expect it. However, we also shouldn’t expect Semien either.
It is an unpopular opinion, but losing Marcus Semien will not hurt Toronto. Not extending Robbie Ray, finding a third baseman and reinforcing their bullpen and pitching depth overall will.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.