Former A’s shortstop Marcus Semien had his press conference to be introduced as the newest member of the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday, and it didn’t take long for him to say something that would tug at the heartstrings of Oakland fans.
“I mean, we called [the A’s], I’ll leave it at that,” Semien said via video call with reporters (h/t The San Francisco Chronicle). “We called them. It’s just something I felt like I owed to my family, not only my wife and kids, but my parents and people who got to see me play at the big league level - to call [the A’s] and say, ‘Hey, Marcus would like to play short.’ And it didn’t work. But that’s totally fine. I understand the business.”
Semien signed a one-year, $18 million deal with the Jays on Jan. 26, but will be playing at second base despite the rest of his MLB career taking place at the shortstop position. The Bay Area native made it clear he wanted to remain with the A’s, as did the team’s brass at the end of 2020. But as he said, it’s a business.
The A’s also didn’t extend Semien a one-year, $18.9 qualifying offer in November after six seasons with the team.
“Most of the guys who got the qualifying offer had a more quality 60-game season than I did,” Semien said. “So I didn’t know if [the A’s] would necessarily evaluate me off of 2019 or just 2020. Obviously, they were probably looking more at 2020 and saying maybe his value is lower.”
Semien told NBC Sports California in November the 2020, compacted season with only 60 games was not enough time for those heading into free agency to prove what they were worth. Despite a down year for the 30-year-old (.223/.305/.374), what the A’s believed he reportedly worth was worth was a bizarre, $12.5 million, one-year deal, but $10 million of that would be deferred in 10, one-year installments of $1 million each.
Semien said he wished it were different. And the unknown aspect of it all was understandably difficult.
“We weren’t surprised that we didn’t get offered the qualifying. But it just didn’t seem like Oakland had that amount of money to give away at that time anyway. So it’s all good.”
Semien finished third in AL MVP voting in 2019. He led the league with 747 plate appearances and started in all 162 games, while slashing .285/.369/.522 with 33 home runs.
Despite not returning to his home town in 2021, he told reporters he was happy with the decision to go to the Blue Jays and was happy how quickly it worked out.
“Oakland gave me an opportunity to grow into a man, a father, a player, a leader, a shortstop -- now second baseman,” Semien said. “So I have no ill will towards them. I just understand the financial situation made it so there was not really a great offer there.”