With days to go till the collective bargaining settlement expires, the primary domino has fallen on the crowded, proficient shortstop market. Nevertheless it’s not Carlos Correa or Corey Seager: It’s Marcus Semien, who has reportedly signed a seven-year, $175 million contract with the Texas Rangers. It’s a blockbuster deal for a membership that hopes to begin contending quickly. It’s additionally a higher-than-expected quantity for Semien—which could trace at what the opposite high shortstops available on the market can be getting. Right here’s the breakdown of the way it issues across the sport:
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What This Means for Semien
The infielder is a notable expertise who was all however assured to obtain a major contract. However the figures that got here out on Sunday exceeded what had been even probably the most optimistic estimates for Semien.
FanGraphs had projected that he would obtain four years and $120 million. The New York Publish had five years and $140 million; The Athletic had five years and $148 million, and MLB Commerce Rumors had six years and $138 million. Observe that none of these included a seventh yr or touched $150 million—not to mention $175 million.
So how did Semien find yourself touchdown a deal like this? An ideal place to begin is the truth that he leads all place gamers in Baseball-Reference WAR because the begin of 2019. (His 15.9 WAR exceeds Mookie Betts’ 15.0 and Juan Soto’s 14.5.) He’s the one participant in both league who has been an MVP finalist twice within the final three seasons. He affords each energy and pace, as the one participant within the final three seasons to hit 85 or extra dwelling runs with 20 or extra stolen bases, and he’s additionally notably sturdy: Semien has made only one journey to the IL since debuting within the majors in 2013. (He performed all 162 regular-season video games in each 2019 and 2021.) Whereas he’s traditionally been a shortstop, he confirmed this previous yr simply how capably he can deal with second base, the place he received his first Gold Glove. The takeaway right here is nearly as good as the entire above would counsel: Semien is a high quality all-around participant who’s been one of many best within the sport over the previous couple of years.
But there are a couple of factors that slip him behind a reputation like Correa or Seager. The clearest is his age: At 31, he’s the oldest of the premium shortstops accessible this winter, all of whom are underneath 30. That appeared to make him extra more likely to signal a four- or five-year deal than something longer and, due to this fact, made him a greater match for a workforce that was in win-now mode. (This clearly didn’t occur! However extra on the Rangers’ motivation beneath.) The opposite lingering query was hooked up to his historical past. Sure, Semien has appeared like a star since 2019. However he had appeared merely like a stable on a regular basis participant in yearly earlier than that. That’s not a nasty factor to be, in fact, and Semien was remarkably constant at it: He posted an OPS+ between 95 and 99 in every of his first 4 full major-league seasons. Nevertheless it does imply that his long-term monitor file is just not as established as another members of this class—even in case you’re inclined to imagine that he’ll stick together with his latest ranges of manufacturing, that is nonetheless an element to notice, notably together with his age.
Which all comes right down to a backside line one thing like this: Semien has proven that he can play on the highest degree, and he’s discovered a workforce that was prepared to wager large on him doing the identical going ahead, for longer than anybody had guessed.
What This Means for the Rangers
First, the apparent: That is very, excellent for Texas! Semien is a wonderful participant, as detailed above, and this makes the Rangers significantly higher than they had been yesterday. It addresses a key space of want—shortstop was an apparent gap for them to fill—and it pushes them nearer to turning into a successful workforce.
However there are nonetheless legitimate questions in regards to the match right here. Semien made loads of sense for a workforce that was already playoff-ready: Texas isn’t that. (Except there are some extra large strikes coming—which it does sound like there could be.) The Rangers are 5 years faraway from their final successful season, and whereas they’ve began to place the items collectively to tug out of their rebuild, they don’t appear like a contender fairly but. That makes Semien a considerably curious alternative—nevertheless it doesn’t make him a nasty one, and so they’ve already began making complementary strikes to make it a considerably higher match.
In addition to a shortstop, Texas wanted beginning pitching and a few outfield assist. The workforce began addressing each classes virtually immediately: The Rangers are reportedly now in settlement with former Rockies pitcher Jon Grey for 4 years and $56 million and likewise with outfielder Kole Calhoun. With Grey, they’re taking a bet on unlocking the upside from a pitcher who has traditionally been an up-and-down mid-rotation arm. (Simply liberating him from Coors Area ought to assist.) With Calhoun, they’re getting some probably helpful depth. These strikes don’t essentially make a successful workforce—at the very least, not by themselves, and never immediately. (Keep in mind: The Rangers should not a lot knocking on the door proper now as they’re nonetheless strolling up the entrance steps in sight of the door.) However they assist lay the inspiration. And they’d make much more sense when paired with a fair larger, splashier signing—like, say, one other premium shortstop?
Sure, we all know, you’re studying about how they simply signed an enormous deal for shortstop Marcus Semien. However Semien can play second—he’s in all probability a greater long-term match there than he’s at brief—and he’s reportedly interested in sticking at the keystone if he has to accommodate another shortstop. That might enable the Rangers so as to add somebody like Trevor Story, which is the sort of deal that might assist catapult them into competition ahead of these strikes would alone. And so they might in all probability use one other outfielder, too, whereas they’re at it. Would that be rather a lot for one offseason? In fact. However given how a lot floor Texas has to cowl simply to get to .500—this workforce misplaced 102 video games in 2021!—it makes much more sense to consider these strikes as a starting relatively than an ending. To signal Semien and Grey is a sign that the Rangers wish to begin successful sooner relatively than later. It stands to cause that they need to maintain pursuing extra strikes to make that occur.
What This Means for the Remainder of the Shortstop Market
Correa, Seager and Story (and, to a far lesser extent, Javier Báez) had been at all times going to receives a commission. But when Semien is ready to pull down a seven-year deal like this? It could be price revising your different shortstop contract predictions upwards.
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