Peter Gammons reported today that the Red Sox like free agent Marcus Semien, however are unsure of the dollar amount needed to sign him. Barring an insane contract value, the Red Sox not only need to be actively involved in the market, but would be much better off with him on the team.
Let’s start with the potential bad of a Semien signing. MLBTR predicted his contract to run at 1 year for $14 million. An annual deal at $14 million is likely off the table for the Sox, especially if they want Semien under a multi-year deal. Along with this is his relative lack of production in this past truncated season, slashing .203/.305/.374 with 50 strikeouts in 53 games. His defensive was down as well, finishing with a -.2 defensive WAR. Clearly Semien poses a risk, as the team cannot be doling out multi year deals worth $10 million annually to players with a sub-.700 OPS.
However, in this past, COVID influenced season, Semien’s down year may represent a prolonged slump, and his performance in the playoffs highlighted the player he was in 2019. Only a year ago, Semien posted an .892 OPS with 33 home runs, finishing third in the MVP voting. Not only was Semien the best offensive shortstop that year, he was also one of the better defensive ones as well, posting a 2.2 defensive WAR as well as a 12 DRS. Fangraphs’ ZIPS projection highlights little drop off in either 2021 or 2022, furthering the notion that a multi year deal is in the team’s best interests.
Semien is willing to play positions other than shortstop, placating to the needs and demands of the market, and the Red Sox should be in. Semien would solve the team’s woes at second base for at least this year, and also provides an able backup to Xander Bogaerts should he get injured. Whether Semien wants a deal past one season remains to be seen, but no matter what the Red Sox need to be involved and making an offer to him.