Free Agent Target: The Mariners Need to Sign Marcus Semien

Max Ellingsen
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - AUGUST 13: Marcus Semien #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays waits for a pitch during an at-bat in a game against the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park on August 13, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. The Mariners won 3-2. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - AUGUST 13: Marcus Semien #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays waits for a pitch during an at-bat in a game against the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park on August 13, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. The Mariners won 3-2. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) /
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With the MLB playoffs officially over and the offseason starting, there has been plenty of time for prospective moves to be speculated over by fans and analysts alike. The Mariners, unlike in years past, find themselves in the middle of such rumors, being connected to many of the top available free agents. With a gaping hole at second base and an overabundance of money to spend, the Mariners have been heavily tied to free-agent middle infielder Marcus Semien.

Coming off of an MVP caliber season and a historic season for a second baseman, the time has never been better than to make a splash and obtain a team-altering player.

Mariners fans, let me familiarize you with your new favorite free agent target: Marcus Semien.

Semien is a 31-year-old middle infielder who last played for the Toronto Blue Jays. Originally a shortstop by trade with Oakland, Semien made the switch to second base last year after signing a 1 year deal with the Jays late into the offseason. Semien had found success in Oakland, posting a fantastic .285/.369/.522 slash line in 2019, good enough to finish third in MVP voting that year.

However, after a down year in the shortened 2020 season, Semien had a hard time establishing his value in the down market. Relegated to taking a one-year “prove it” deal, Semien erupted with a monstrous year on both sides of the ball. Playing excellent defense and breaking the MLB record for most HR’s hit in a season by a second baseman, it’s safe to say Semien would be a welcome addition to the Seattle Mariners.

Marcus Semien has long been my dream signing for the Mariners. He is a fantastic player, fills a position of need, is from the West Coast, and wants both to compete for a title and be compensated for his talents. There is no other team in the league with the payroll flexibility nor the upside in their roster like the Seattle Mariners.

In light of Yusei Kikuchi declining his player option and the club’s departure from longtime mainstay Kyle Seager, the Mariners have a current guaranteed payroll of less than 45 million dollarsWith ownership’s commitment to adding payroll and Jerry Dipoto showing aggression toward player acquisition, the stars are aligning for a big-time signing. No signing seems like a better fit than Marcus Semien.

A quick comparison of 2021 stats…

  • Marcus Semien – .265 / .334 /.538,  133 OPS+, 7.2 WAR
  • Dylan Moore – .181 / .276 / .334, 71 OPS+, 0.9 WAR
  • Abraham Toro – .252 / .328 / .367, 96 OPS+, 0.9 WAR

Looking at the stats alone makes it abundantly clear just how big of an upgrade Semien is at second base. Semien can immediately slot into second base and provide an upgrade larger than nearly anyone available.

Yes. I can understand the arguments for other players. The upcoming offseason is one of the best free agency classes in years. Marcus Semien is older than players like Carlos Correa or Corey Seager, has a shorter track record, etc. The reality of the Mariners’ situation is that it isn’t practical to expect all the marquee free agents to want to play for Seattle.

They have so much money, they can essentially write a blank check to 3 separate players and run a league average payroll. However, money isn’t everything. Attracting players that want to play on the East Coast is something that the Mariners simply can’t accommodate. These factors aren’t a concern in regards to Semien, as he is from the West Coast and spent the majority of his career playing there. No outside hurdles stand in their way other than negotiating a contract, making him a realistic target.

Truly the best aspect of inking Semien to a deal is the window he would fit in with the team. Semien is unlikely to get a contract longer than 5 years, with the realistic length being a 3-4 year deal with a very high dollar amount per year. Being 31 and playing the middle infield, there is little chance any organization is willing to pay a 36-year-old second baseman $25+ million to start. It just doesn’t work out.

Thus, a deal that looks similar to a 4 year – $105 million would be optimal for both the player and the team. Semien maximizes his prime and gets over the $25 million per year threshold while Seattle commits a star player to their window of contention and gets him off the payroll in time to pay their young prospects who will be demanding a larger sum of the payroll. It is truly a win-win.

Next. Seattle Mariners Should Pursue Jon Gray in Free Agency. dark

Marcus Semien can find his way onto a roster of young, exciting players hungry for a playoff birth. The entire city is behind this team and the atmosphere around Seattle baseball is nothing short of electric. Be a part of history, Marcus. Come to Seattle and end this drought.

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