What makes AL MVP finalist Marcus Semien a ‘perfect fit’ for Mariners
If there’s one free agent the Mariners have been connected to more than any other going into this offseason, it’s clearly Marcus Semien.
The 31-year-old Semien is coming off a career year with Toronto, slashing .265/.334/.538 for an .873 OPS along with 45 home runs (a single-season record for a second baseman), 39 doubles, two triples, 15 stolen bases, 115 runs scored and 102 RBIs. Oh, and he also won the American League Gold Glove for his play at second base, a position he hadn’t played in seven seasons.
Put that all together, and it probably shouldn’t be a surprise that Semien was announced Monday as one of three finalists for AL MVP along with Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani and his Blue Jays teammate, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Semien’s price tag likely went up with both the Gold Glove win and the MVP finalist announcement, so why do the Mariners keep coming up as a potential favorite to land him?
Shannon Drayer, Mariners insider for 710 ESPN Seattle, joined The Mike Salk Show on Tuesday and shared a pretty strong explanation, going as far as to say Semien “seems to be the perfect fit” for what the Mariners need.
“He’s a player that the Mariners have seen up close for a long time,” said Drayer, pointing to Semien’s six-year run as the shortstop for the Oakland A’s, Seattle’s rival in the AL West. “Had he been in a different division or had he been in the National League, I think you would probably have more questions, but they’ve seen so much of him through the years and they’ve seen him with his struggles… so I think they know more about him than they would so many other players, and I think that that probably plays a large part in it.”
The fact that Semien has more experience at shortstop has resulted in him being included in a stacked class of shortstops in free agency, but Mariners general manager/president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto made it clear in a recent edition of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jerry Dipoto Show that the team is committed to 2020 Gold Glove winner J.P. Crawford at the position. Semien winning a Gold Glove at second, however, plays into the Mariners’ hands.
“Because he did play second base this year, it wouldn’t appear that would be a problem,” Drayer said.
The M’s should be impressed by the improvements Semien has made in the field, too, considering that wasn’t always a strength of his.
“They saw how he developed with the defense in particular with (former A’s infield coach) Ron Washington and the work that he put in every day,” Drayer said. “I mean, this was a guy that we literally saw out with the A’s doing the early work day after day after day. It’s similar to what we see with a lot of the guys now that (the Mariners) have (infield coach) Perry Hill, but at the time, that wasn’t something that you saw (often).”
There’s one thing about the Mariners that may put them ahead of other potential suitors for Semien, though: the Bay Area native reportedly would prefer to go to a team on the West Coast.
“I think that you hear of all these players that don’t want to come all the way to Seattle, that don’t want to be on the West Coast, that prefer the big lights of the east,” Drayer said. “Well, doesn’t that kind of behoove you to really go after those that you know you do have that advantage with them? I think that plays a little bit into it, too. He just seems to be the perfect fit for what they need.”
Drayer also talked about other potential targets for the Mariners this offseason, Scott Servais’ chances of winning AL Manager of the Year and more during the segment. Listen to the full conversation at this link or in the player below.