The A's won't have Marcus Semien back in the lineup next season, as the star shortstop agreed to a deal with the Toronto Blue Jays on a one-year contract worth a reported $18 million.
Semien, a Bay Area native who played his college baseball at Cal, was a powerful presence in the A's clubhouse. Several players spoke to The Athletic's Alex Coffey and expressed what they'll miss about the 30-year-old.
“He’s created a culture here,” Mark Canha told Coffey over the phone on Friday. “We didn’t have that culture when Marcus and I first showed up in 2015. It was a lot different four or five years ago. Young players couldn’t really speak up. That’s just how it was. Veterans ran the clubhouse, and they ran it a certain way, and in my opinion, it’s changed for the better. We’re a lot more inclusive now and that just allows for better cohesion and Marcus helped build that."
Pitcher Chris Bassitt came to the A's along with Semien in a trade with the Chicago White Sox from 2014, and he knows players will have to step up and fill the void left by the former MVP finalist.
“I mean, it just sucks,” Bassitt told Coffey on Wednesday. “I mean, there is no dispute that he was the leader of our team. He was the leader for the entire community stuff that we did. Obviously, it’s a business, this is part of it, but I mean losing someone like Marcus is a big blow. We luckily have some veteran guys that can now step up and somewhat try to make up for what we just lost. But it’s really about losing quality people, not so much the holes that they’re filling on the field. It’s just what guys like Marcus bring every single day that is the biggest loss.”
The A's publicly expressed interest in bringing Semien back at the end of the 2020 season, but offered him just a one-year, $12 million deal with $10 million deferred in $1 million installments over 10 years, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported last week.
Nick Allen, Vimael Machin and Chad Pinder could share the responsibility of replacing Semien at shortstop. Machin made his MLB debut in July with the A's, and the versatile infielder hit .206 over 63 at-bats during the truncated 2020 season. Allen is the A's No. 4 prospect and slashed .292/.363/.434 over 328 plate appearances with the Stockton Ports in 2019 (there was no minor-league baseball season in 2020). Pinder posted a .232/.295/.393 slash line in 24 games with the A's as a utlityman last year.
Once spring training gets underway, the A's will have a better idea of how exactly they'll attack replacing Semien in the lineup and in the field. But as his teammates conveyed to Coffey above, his leadership and demeanor in the dugout won't be easily replicated.