The Cincinnati Reds have really only stated one thing that they planned on doing this offseason and that’s to acquire a shortstop for 2021. After losing Freddy Galvis to free agency, and deciding that prospect Jose Garcia needed more time in the minors to continue his offensive development, Cincinnati needed to hit the free agent market or trade market in order to find someone to take over the position for now (and perhaps into the future depending on who would be acquired). It was nearly a month ago we heard that the Reds had talked to Didi Gregorius. Today, Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio and The Athletic noted that Cincinnati has also been involved with Marcus Semien.

This offseason is a good time to be looking for a shortstop. We’ve discussed it on the digital pages of Redleg Nation many times already, but the options are there at the top of the market if you’re willing to pay the price (either in dollars in free agency or in trade capital on the trade market). To this point the only shortstop to come off of the board is Korean-born Ha-seong Kim, who signed with the San Diego Padres.

When it comes to Marcus Semien he’s coming off of what is arguably his worst season in his big league career. In 53 games for Oakland last season he hit just .223/.305/.374. Of course it was just two seasons ago where he was an MVP candidate for the Athletics, hitting .285/.369/.522 with 83 extra-base hits while putting up 8.9 WAR (Baseball Reference version).

It’s been a bit of an up-and-down career for Marcus Semien. Since becoming an every day player in 2015 with Oakland he’s alternated below-average and above-average years with the exception of back-to-back above-average seasons in 2018 (4.7 WAR) and 2019. He’ll be 30-years-old for almost the entirety of the 2021 season – he will turn 31 in late September.

MLB Trade Rumors, right as the offseason was beginning, predicted a 1-year and $14M deal for Marcus Semien. They had the shortstop signing with the Los Angeles Angels, but noted that the Reds were among teams that could be in the running.

ZiPS liked Marcus Semien to rebound from his 2020 season some, but not return to what he did in the 2019 campaign, either. His current projection for the 2021 season is .257/.333/.442 – good for an OPS+ of 111 – and a 4.2 WAR, which is All-Star level production. To put an OPS+ of 111 into more context for Great American Ballpark, rather than the projection that is based on playing in Oakland’s cavernous confines, that’s roughly an .800 OPS in Cincinnati.

A 1-year deal would be perfect for the Reds. They still seem to believe in Jose Garcia as the future option at shortstop, and a year could be enough time for him to gain some more experience against advanced pitching and potentially have him ready to take over the spot in the big leagues in 2022. With the market being as slow as it has been, maybe the deal would even be for less money than the projected $14M that MLB Trade Rumors had to start the offseason.

For Marcus Semien, though, that’s a deal he probably wasn’t hoping for when he entered free agency. A down year, granted even in a shortened season, didn’t help. Toss in that about five teams in baseball seem to be trying to win and it’s really pushed the competition for talent down, and thus, contract offers, too. But if you are going to sign a 1-year deal, there are a lot of places worse than Great American Ballpark to head to and try to establish yourself once again and hit free agency with some strong offensive numbers, even if you do happen to be a year older.

24 Responses

  1. CFD3000

    I really like Semien for one year, possibly with an option for 2022. He won’t be crazy expensive, and even ordinary offensive production from him would be an improvement on Garcia, Galvis, or Iglesias. And I much prefer Semien for cash to Trevor Storey or another SS option for prospects. The only other option worth serious pursuit is Gregorius but he’ll likely want more money and/or more years, with basically the same upside. Semien’s the guy – I hope the Reds can get it done.

  2. RedsFan11

    I like Semien and Didi. Signing one of them along with some return to the back of their cards by current Reds, gives me that ever dangerous word… hope.

    But everything this organization has done in the past under Bob (last year as maybe the only exception, while moves so far this year are the normality) leads me to believe it will be a February 1st signing of 2 years $8mil of the exceptional Fredrick Galvis…

    • Optimist

      There’s good and bad here, at least for the starting 8, particularly regarding the “back of the cards” comment. I agree with that, they should be better, and so should Semien. Still, they’ll be a team full of 30-32 yr. olds, and Votto. Even the youngsters aren’t that young – look at TyStephenson and Lodolo.

      It’s a tough task, but the sweet spot is obviously 25-27 yr. olds in their 2nd-3rd years, with years of control remaining. The extremely tough task is getting that in both the pitching staff and fielders. The records of the past few years show the mismatches they’ve had.

      I agree about the hope for this year, and one signing would do that, either at SS or a SP, but fear they’ll settle for going for .500 and a decorative deal at the trade deadline.

  3. Doc

    MLBTR says that next year will be a big year for SS FA. Roll with Farmer in 2021, Garcia in AAA. If Garcia rakes at Louisville, bring him up later in the season for a more extended stretch. If opinions change about him, then look at SS FA in 2021-2 off season.

    Too many unknowns on this team entering 2021. If offense returns to back of card form, SP is formidable, and BP is solid, Farmer/Garcia will not be the anchor that determines how deep into the playoffs Reds get. If 2021 offense is a repeat of 2020, except for three times the agony duration, no FA SS is the difference maker.

    Trade might be a different scenario. If, for example, a trade of Suarez were to bring a significant upgrade at SS, the Reds have the pieces to move around the board without having to bank on someone such as India being ML ready. They already have enough major leaguers on their roster to field the other 7 non SS positions, and maybe benefit from players being more in their natural positions. How far they go will still depend on return to form of position players, maintaining form of SP, and solid BP.

  4. SultanofSwaff

    Coming off a down year, a 2 year offer at a lower AAV than a one year deal would land Semien in my opinion. I don’t see him getting more than $11mil for one year given the budgetary constraints of most teams. So maybe $18mil over two years gets it done…….two years of Semien for the same price as one of Story. Then again, if his down year wasn’t an aberration, you’d be stuck with him.

    I’m a huge believer in Garcia. I’d much prefer the Reds trade Geno (India/Moose at 2b/3b) and use some of that money to acquire Story while surrendering no prospects.

  5. RedBaron

    I think it would most likely be a 1 year with a 1 year option. Something like $13m and $17M for year 2 or $2M buyout. That would guarantee him $15M which is fair for 1 year IMO.

  6. LDS

    I’m beginning to worry that the Reds won’t acquire a SS this off season. As FAs watch the Reds shed payroll this year, trying to dump affordable players like Suarez, last years FA signings, coupled with questionable field management, small market exposure, likelihood of post season play, what is their incentive to sign with the Reds? Will the Reds pay a premium to overcome all the negatives. NO. Maybe Bauer will fill us in after he signs with someone else.

    • Hotto4Votto

      I hope they’ll land one of the top SS just due to supply and demand. But Red’s fans should realize we weren’t a FA destination until last off-season, and had to overpay a bit to make those deals happen. With everything that’s happened since, it’s likely we’re viewed as less of a desirable destination. Like you mentioned, they’re trying hard to move guys we signed just last year, they’ve only made moves that have decreased the talent on this team and appear primed to move more players if they can.
      I think it’s telling guys like Didi, and last year Grandal, mentioned being open to reunions with other former clubs, but not mentioning the Reds.

  7. LB

    To be honest, I think the way to entice Semien is basically mitigating his risk by giving him a 3-4 year deal (my guess would be 4) but providing an opt-out after 2021 (akin to the Castellanos deal). That way, if Semien plays great, he can join next year’s crowd on a healthier market. If not, he’s got some security and finishes out the relevant portion of his career with the Reds.

    I get that some Reds fans may be uncomfortable with that, but I think Semien is great, and I’m not too worried about the potential infield juggling in 2023-2024, as that will probably work itself out.

    • MBS

      That contract is the worst. It was a bad precedent to set, letting someone have 2 walk options in the 1st 2 seasons. If that’s what the team needs to do to bring someone in, then the organization is a joke.

      Hopefully the changes the Reds made change the franchise into a winning team. Then players will want to come here, without tricks. Think how much better we would have been if Ozuna and Didi had signed with us. Both took lesser contracts to play elsewhere.

      • Jimbo44CN

        I agree on that one. We would most likely been much better off.

      • Doc

        I agree. They walk if they play well; we’re stuck with the contract if their game/skills go south. If there is going to be a walk option it should be mutual; the player can walk if they have a good year, with no team buyout, but the team can opt out when the player does poorly. Unrealistic probably but that’s the only way I would consider that kind of concrete.

    • Stock

      What I don’t like about an opt out after one year is the Reds take 100% of the risk. If Semien is great he leaves. If Semien sucks he stays and the Reds are stuck with a bad contract. I would not mind seeing a four year contract with an opt out after 2022. If he has a great 2021 he creates a lot of trade value. We can enjoy his great year and then trade him for prospects.

  8. TR

    If not much else, the Reds are apparently doing a lot of talking.

    • Stock

      It seems like that is what everyone is doing. Only 5 of the top 25 FA have signed thus far. Two of the five that have signed accepted qualifying offers. Six weeks until Spring Training and 70% of the top 50 prospect remaing available. At some point players need to sign. It would also be nice to know if the NL will have the DH this year.

  9. west larry

    He’s 30 years old, asking 14 million plus on a multiyear deal…even if he “settles” for two years and 18 million, I believe that to be far more than the reds are willing to spend. I understand the reds kicking the tires on all of the free agents that fit their needs, but imo, they’ll pick up a bargain basement shortstop on go with what they have.

    • JayTheRed

      Who is this bargain basement SS you speak of and please don’t say Galvis. Though I could see the Reds doing that cause they know him. sigh…

      • west larry

        yes, I too see Glavis as, at best, a back up shortstop…Could Simmons drop so far in value that he would sign with the reds? I hope so, but I’m not counting on it. Sadly, it may be Farmer, Glavis until Garcia is ready.

  10. JayTheRed

    Wonder if he would do a 1 year dead with a mutual option? Or player option?

    I would be ok with this. Give Garcia a full year this coming season to develop and then if the option is picked up he really could home his skills in AAA or maybe start working him into the lineup some at the major league level.

    • JayTheRed

      Sorry above I said dead. I meant deal.

  11. William D Bishop

    2 yrs for Garcia in the minors might be about right, based on what we saw last season for him at the plate. He’s a young guy, and that timing could work out for all parties.

  12. Steve Schoenbaechler

    We need someone.

    I still would have gone after the Korean kid. We need people to get on base, and that kid knew how. He may not have been able to do it in the MLB, but he knew how to get on base. As young as he was, he’s had a good career at doing just that. If he didn’t make it in his first year, I’m confident he would have made the necessary corrections. Every pro has to make corrections. Even Votto admitted he made changes last year.