New York Yankees

How Didi Gregorius could fit A's in free agency if Marcus Semien leaves

How Didi Gregorius could fit A's in free agency if Marcus Semien leaves

Editor's Note: This week, NBC Sports Bay Area will theorize hypothetical front-office acquisitions for each of our teams. Today, we examine a potential move the A's could make.

Nobody wants Marcus Semien to stay with Oakland more than, well … Marcus Semien. But that might not be the case.

The Bay Area native and Cal grad made the inaugural All-MLB team in 2019, earning Second Team honors after slashing a .285/.369/.522 line with 33 home runs and 92 RBI. That was good for an .892 OPS. He also led the league with 747 plate appearances starting at shortstop in all 162 games. 

As we face a standstill in the baseball world due to the coronavirus pandemic, there’s a chance we have seen Semien wear an A’s uniform for the final time, as 2020 is the final year on his contract. That means preparing for a departure from the 2019 third-place AL MVP. Someone like Didi Gregorius could make for a good option to fill that void in 2021.

The deal

Didi Gregorious to the A's on a three-year, $40 million contract.

Gregorius signed a one-year, $14 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies in the offseason. The slight drop in the monetary amount would be because of his ability to be an injury magnet. 

Plus, the A’s historically have not given out long-term contracts to free agents in the past, but that could be beneficial to Gregorius. If the team couldn’t keep Semien, three years to a shortstop of Gregorius’ caliber feels fair and something Oakland could give.

The 30-year-old has been backed by A’s legend Reggie Jackson while Gregorius was with the New York Yankees. Gregorius himself has always been a leader and he did that while taking over for Derek Jeter during that time (2015-19).

“The players gravitate to him,” Jackson told ESPN’s Marly Rivera. That’s the type of role Semien plays in the Oakland clubhouse as the team’s main guy to refer messages from management to the rest of the players.

Gregorius’ eight-year career could be defined as a “rollercoaster,” but his lefty bat makes for an exciting option. One of the A’s main objectives during this offseason was to obtain a lefty infield bat. They did that and wanted to find a mainstay at the second base position. We still have to wait to see if they will use one starter or have a lefty bat such as Tony Kemp platooning with Franklin Baretto.

This could put that need to rest. 

During those years with the Yankees, Gregorius proved that bat was very successful at Yankee Stadium. He also hit the ball harder in 2019 than the year previously. He did struggle to make contact -- his chase rate spiked from 36.2 percent to 41.1 percent -- that’s a career-high. He struck out more, but so did most of the league. 

According to FanGraphs' Jay Jaffe, projection-wise, Didi is predicted to produce a 2.5 WAR (via ZiPS), which is “a performance that would be well worth the salary and would set the shortstop up for a multiyear deal.”

Last season with the Yankees, Gregorius played in just 82 games after suffering a right shoulder contusion. He also underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018. He finished 2019 with a .238/.276/.441 line with 16 home runs and 61 RBI. 

He’s projected to have a stronger season in 2020, as Baseball-Reference projects him to hit .274 with 49 hits in an abbreviated season.

[RELATED: Ex-A's pitcher Bartolo Colon still wants to play at 46]

We all want Semien back -- both parties have a mutual interest in an extension, but the money that’s being talked about in order to retain him might not in the cards for the A’s. Semien also hired new representation last August with the Wasserman Agency, meaning he would be aggressively seeking a big deal.

He’s irreplaceable in more ways than the numbers, but in the event that he leaves, it’s time to prepare for what could be next.

Why Reggie Jackson's time with A's holds special place in his heart

Why Reggie Jackson's time with A's holds special place in his heart

Reggie Jackson’s time with the A’s wasn’t short-lived by any means, but it’s fair to say fans would have loved to see him sport the green and gold forever. In his heart, however, he does. 

Mr. October’s 10 years with the team earned six of his 14 total All-Star selections across the Hall of Fame outfielder's 21-year career. And he enjoyed every moment he spent with Oakland.

Jackson was part of the team’s dynasty in the 1970s that created the “The Swingin’ A’s.” The team won three consecutive World Series from 1972-74. 

“I’m a proud Oakland A with all the championship teams,” Jackson told The Chronicle’s Susan Slusser. “The team we had there is one of the great dynasties in all of baseball.”

Jackson even told NBC Sports California’s Monte Poole he believed those teams were better than his time with the New York Yankees. The A's were the best team he’s ever played on, he said. 

He admitted he approaches both of the teams differently, but said if there was a way to hypothetically put both him and Hall of Fame pitcher Catfish Hunter on both squads, the A’s would have better pitching and a better outfield. 

[RELATED: Dallas Braden shares what he misses most about sports]

Jackson said there’s a special place in his heart for the A’s, and despite all the talks, he would be disappointed to see them leave Oakland amid the possible relocation rumors.

“It would break my heart to see them leave,” he told Slusser. “I’m an Oakland A in my heart forever. It’s where I started, it’s where I have family. I still own a home there. I’ve got nothing bad to say about Oakland or anyone in the organization.”

CC Sabathia, Bay Area native, shows off insane body transformation

CC Sabathia, Bay Area native, shows off insane body transformation

Talk about a glow up.

Have you seen how former pitcher CC Sabathia, a Bay Area native, is looking these days shortly after announcing his retirement? He’s jacked!

Right? We know.

The Vallejo-born's podcast partner on “R2C2,” Ryan Ruocco, confirmed this is not Photoshopped and is the real 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner. 

Sabathia has been putting in a lot of work since the world has gone into quarantine, Ruocco said. 

It certainly shows. 

Sabathia made the decision to embrace a raw, vegan diet a couple of years ago after learning the most important thing to recover from an injury was what he was putting in his body. He was rehabbing from a surgery to remove damaged cartilage and a Baker’s cyst from his right knee back in 2018. 

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Sabathia always has been a guy of bigger stature, and if you want to go by his weight that was last listed on his Baseball-Reference page, he was pushing around 300 pounds. 

The Vallejo High School graduate retired from baseball on Oct. 21, 2019, after a 19-year career across three teams, which included 11 seasons with the New York Yankees. 

[RELATED: Sabathia reps hometown on cleats during Player's Weekend]

He earned six All-Star selections in addition to that Cy Young Award, won a ring with the Pinstripes in 2009, and on April 30, 2019, became the 17th pitcher in MLB history to reach 3,000 strikeouts. Just the third southpaw to do so.

Quarantine did him goooooood.