The White Sox still don’t know exactly what they have in Marcus Semien, but they’re moving a little closer to finding out with the decision to promote him from Double-A to Triple-A on Thursday.
Semien, a 2011 sixth-round pick, busted out in the second half of last season after an uninspiring first year as a pro. This season, he had hit .290/.420/.483 with 15 homers, 20 steals in 393 at-bats at-bats in Double-A.
What’s most impressive is the evolution of his strikeout to walk ratio:
2011: 53/22 K/BB in 229 AB
2012: 97/55 K/BB in 418 AB
2013: 66/84 K/BB in 393 AB
Semien, who was projected as a utilityman at the beginning of the season, has appeared in 47 games at short, 41 games at second and 17 at third this year. The White Sox have to decide whether they want to keep rotating him or to hand him a full-time position now that he looks more like a future regular. Gordon Beckham’s impressive rebound could leave the White Sox set at second base for a while longer, and Alexei Ramirez, though a trade candidate just 24 hours ago, is signed to play shortstop through 2015.
Around this time last year, the ink was drying on Manny Machado‘s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres and Bryce Harper was about to put the finishing touches on his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. We had gotten used to premier free agents hanging out in limbo until late February and even into March. This past offseason, however, was a return to normal. The top three free agents — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg — all signed in December. Once the big names are off the board, the lesser free agents subsequently tend to find homes. There were a handful of noteworthy signings in January, but pretty much everyone was off the board when February began.
There are a handful of free agents remaining as I write this, with one name really sticking out: Yasiel Puig. Last season, between the Reds and Indians, Puig hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 611 plate appearances. He was one of only seven players in the league last year to hit at least 24 home runs and swipe at least 19 bases. While Puig has had some problems over the years, he still possesses a rare blend of power and speed that would seem useful.
The Marlins, White Sox, and Rockies have been linked to Puig this offseason. His market has been otherwise quiet since he became a free agent. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests Puig will have to settle for a “pillow contract” — a one-year deal with which Puig reestablishes his market value, aiming to pursue a multi-year deal the following offseason. Along with the aforementioned three teams, Bowden suggests the Mariners, Indians, Pirates, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals as other teams that could potentially fit with Puig, which is not to be confused with teams having expressed interest in his services.