Athletics

Why A's Marcus Semien stayed optimistic about playing 2020 MLB season

Why A's Marcus Semien stayed optimistic about playing 2020 MLB season

When MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told ESPN that he no longer was "100 percent" confident in the prospect of a 2020 MLB season, just days after saying the exact opposite, many began writing the obituary for this campaign and writing off any chance of it happening.

But Manfred eventually used his authority to mandate a 60-game schedule, and after some back-and-forth about the league's safety protocols for batting the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 MLB season was given the green light last week. While many players vocally expressed their frustration with the lack of agreement in the negotiations between the league and the MLB Players' Association, A's shortstop Marcus Semien tried to keep a positive attitude and firm belief that he and his Oakland teammates would indeed be taking the field together in 2020.

"I was optimistic the entire time that we were going to play," Semien told The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal. "In our meetings with (union head) Tony (Clark), he was saying (commissioner) Rob (Manfred) and the owners want to play, we’re going to play. Once we heard that, it was like, 'All right, let’s do this, however we have to do it. I’m going to train and get ready and prepare for a shorter season.' "

[RELATED: Why A's pitching depth could prove beneficial in 60-game MLB season]

Semien is the A's player representative for the union, and although doubt crept into his mind, he remained confident that an agreement could be reached.

"There were days before when we didn’t know if we were going to play, where you had some bad days mentally, when you were just like, 'Man, I wish I was doing what I’ve been doing my whole life, what I’ve been doing for the last 6-7 years, playing Major League Baseball during the summer.'

"Once we heard the news (about returning), I was glad I stayed optimistic. And I’m happy we’re in the place we’re in today."

Although angst likely remains between the two sides due to the tense negotiations, Semien is at least content with the fact that he'll be able to get back on the field this summer with his Oakland teammates.

MLB rumors: Ramón Laureano suspension reduced from A's-Astros brawl

MLB rumors: Ramón Laureano suspension reduced from A's-Astros brawl

After an appeal, A's outfielder Ramón Laureano will have his suspension reduced from six games down to four, league sources told ESPN's Jeff Passan on Friday morning.

Laureano was suspended after charging toward the Houston Astros dugout Sunday following an exchange of words with coach Alex Cintrón. Laureano just had been hit by a pitch for the third time in the series. Cintron was suspended 20 games for his role in instigating the incident.

Laureano told reporters after the game that Cintrón had said something about Laureano's mother that prompted him to charge toward the dugout. Cintron denied the allegation, but MLB's suspension of Cintron for a third of the Astros' games seems to indicate he said something objectionable.

Houston has been a target of much frustration around MLB following the revelation of a systemic sign-stealing scheme the Astros utilized during the 2017 season, one in which they went on to win the World Series over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

[RELATED: Why A's will greatly miss Laureano during his suspension]

Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly was suspended eight games earlier this season after throwing at multiple Houston hitters and mocking shortstop Carlos Correa after a strikeout, prompting the benches to clear.

As Passan noted above, Laureano's suspension will carry through all three games of this weekend's Bay Bridge Series against the Giants, and the first game of Oakland's next series in Arizona against the Diamondbacks. The outfielder won't miss any divisional contests.

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]
 

Scott Boras discusses Matt Chapman's contract status, A's philosophy

Scott Boras discusses Matt Chapman's contract status, A's philosophy

A’s third baseman Matt Chapman is really good at baseball. That could complicate things down the line.

The two-time Platinum Glove Award winner and 2019 All-Star is one of the best third basemen in the game, and according to his agent, Scott Boras, he should be treated as such.

Boras spoke to The Athletic’s Alex Coffey about how MLB's shortened 60-game season could pertain to Chapman and his upcoming arbitration process. If this were a normal 162-game year, the A's star could have been paid anywhere from $10-12 million via arbitration or with an agreement with the team.

But Chapman, playing on a minimum contract, just has adjusted season salary of $230,926, according to Spotrac. 

Yes, the guy who led all of baseball with 32 Defensive Runs Saved last season is making that little. This is the same guy who carries a .920 OPS this season after accumulating 8.3 WAR in 2018 and 2019.

It’s no secret he wants to get paid, and it’s even less of a secret he needs to get paid.

“Matt’s a star player,” Boras told Coffey. “He’s a franchise player. The right of arbitration means more to franchise players than anybody, no doubt.”

Boras also made it a point to list other prominent third basemen in the league. And there are plenty. Colorado Rockies’ third baseman Nolan Arenado, a childhood friend of Chapman, has an adjusted salary of almost $13 million this year. 

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

It’s the same story for the Kris Bryants and Alex Bregmans of the world, who will be making eight figures per year under their current contracts.

The A’s have spoken for years about building a new stadium, which would then allow the team to spend more money on their players. But Boras believes the stadium itself is secondary to Chapman.

“You build the stadium,” he said, “and then it’s ready to start. But you forgot to plant the grass. So you build the stadium, it’s beautiful, but you look at the field and you forgot to plant the grass. The grass is the players. Now you’ve got a beautiful stadium and you’ve got no grass. No one wants to go watch it. The players have to precede the stadium. That’s the rule.”

[RELATED: Chapman believes the defensive game deserves more respect]

Chapman will be a free agent after the 2023 season, which might seem far off in the distance right now, but we know quickly these things go by.

He wants to stay with Oakland and A’s fans want nothing more than for that to happen. While the pandemic threw a wrench in more than just the game itself, it's still yet to be determined what his future might be in Oakland.