(Over the next week, we will be examining each of the A's arbitration-eligible players to determine whether they will return in 2019.)
Marcus Semien was a staple at shortstop for the A's in 2018, playing in 159 of the team's 162 games. Semien slashed .255/.318/.388 with 15 home runs and 70 RBI. He set career highs with 161 hits, 35 doubles, 89 runs, and 14 stolen bases.
Semien, 28, also had the best defensive season of his career, ranking third among American League shortstops with nine defensive runs saved. He and the A's avoided arbitration last season, agreeing to a $3.125 million deal. This year, Semien is projected to get a healthy raise to $6.6 million in arbitration, according to MLB Trade Rumors.
Why he might be a bargain
Semien has turned into a solid all-around shortstop. He provides power, speed, and defense, and is entering his prime at 28 years old. His 4.3 WAR was the best of his career and tied for third among AL shortstops.
Semien is also extremely durable. having played at least 155 games in three of his four seasons with the A's. The Bay Area native can also hit just about anywhere in the order.
Why he might be too pricey
Only Khris Davis earned more than $6.6 million this past season in Oakland, so it's certainly a high price to pay. While Semien has both power and speed, he's not superb in either area. He recorded a .706 OPS this season, 22 points below the league average.
We've talked about 22-year-old Franklin Barreto as an option at second base if the A's don't re-sign Jed Lowrie, but Barreto can play shortstop too. Oakland could surprise everyone by keeping Lowrie and letting Semien go, allowing Barreto to take over an everyday role at short.
While Barreto is an intriguing option at shortstop, you still have to think Semien will be back in Oakland next season. At the age of 28, he is just entering his prime and his defensive improvement has turned him into a valuable all-around player. Semien's durability and versatility in the lineup also help his case to earn that $6.6 million figure. Of course, there's always a chance the two sides agree to a deal to avoid arbitration like last season. Stay tuned.