Deeper Dive: Marcus Semien to the Rangers
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After a season that saw the Rangers lose 102 games in its first full campaign in front of fans at Globe Life Park, there were rumors that Texas was going to be active in the free agent market to help cut their rebuild time. It was understandable that some were skeptical of them being majors players considering how far away they seemed from contention, as you generally don’t see teams that finish 32 games out of first place land marquee free agents.
Those people, however, were wrong. Very, very wrong.
The Rangers spent over a half a billion dollars before the lockout, and the first move was picking up infielder Marcus Semien for a seven-year, $175 million contract.
The figure that immediately stands out here is the seven years, as Semien turned 31 in September, and using scientific data, we know that he’ll be 38 at the end of that deal. It’s probably fair to say that the Rangers may have had to pay the “bad team tax,” overpaying in years to be able to land a player of Semien’s talents.
And those talents are impressive. In his first and only year with the Blue Jays, Semien slashed .265/.334/.538 while playing in all 162 games, hitting 45 homers, driving in 102 runs, scoring 115 himself and stealing 15 bases in 16 attempts. The former Oakland star also finished third in MVP voting while winning the Gold Glove at second base and bringing the Blue Jays to within a game of a playoff spot.
So, is Semien capable of doing this again? The answer is probably not, but he doesn’t need to reach these heights -- and boy were they high -- to rank among the best second baseman in baseball. It’s worth pointing out that he was just as good in 2019; maybe even better with an .892 OPS and 33 homers while again playing all 162 games for Oakland. In 2020, the former White Sox prospect struggled to a .223/.305/.374 slash, but that was over just 53 games, and that’s far too small a sample to discount what he did in 2019 and 2021.
Having said that, there are some reasons for concerns in terms of fantasy value for Semien. The biggest being that hitting for average is not a strong suit, and outside of his outlier 2019 campaign, he’s never hit above .270 in a full season. It’s also worth pointing out that while the Rangers’ lineup is not bereft of talent -- including a $325 million player that we will definitely be writing about -- but he’s going from an absolutely loaded lineup to one that on paper is not going to provide the same type of RBI opportunities. That’s especially true if he’s hitting at the top of the lineup, and it’s hard to imagine he won’t be.
On the other hand of the other hand (don’t think too hard about that), Semien could be looking at an increase in steal attempts. The Rangers ran quite often in 2021, finishing tied for fourth with the Marlins with 106 steals. The Blue Jays, on the other hand, finished 12th and 25 of their steals came from Bo Bichette. Again, with Semien potentially hitting first or second in the Texas lineup, we could be looking at a player that gets more of a chance to run with a lineup that doesn’t have the same kind of oomph as Toronto did.
There’s a good chance Semien only hits in the .240/.250 range, and it’s more likely he’s in the 25-30 homer range and 80-90 RBI mark than the numbers he put up in 2021. Even still, those are still quality numbers for a player eligible at second and shortstop for 2022, and they’ll likely come with at least 15 steals and a decent number of runs as well.
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Quick Hits: Mike Tauchman has signed with the Hanwha Eagles of the Korea Baseball Organization … Dodgers first base coach Clayton McCullough is interviewing for the Mets’ managerial vacancy, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post … Reds signed RHP Kyle Dowdy to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training … Clint Hurdle has joined the Rockies as a special assistant to the general manager. Hurdle took his first job as a major league manager in Colorado, skippering the Rockies between 2002-2009 … Multiple outlets report that the LG Twins of the Korea Baseball Organization have signed free agent right-hander Adam Plutko to a one-year deal … Giants acquired RHP Tanner Andrews from the Braves for cash considerations … Reds signed RHP Kyle Dowdy to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.