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Marcus Semien open to contract extension with Athletics

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According to Jon Heyman, shortstop Marcus Semien has informed the Athletics he would be interested in a contract extension. He is entering his third and final year of arbitration eligibility and can become a free agent after the 2020 season. As Heyman notes, Semien was born in the Bay area and went to college University of California, Berkeley, so there is incentive to remain on the West coast.

Semien, 29, finished third in American League MVP Award balloting for his outstanding 2019 campaign. He played in all 162 games, batting .285/.369/.522 with 43 doubles, 33 home runs, 92 RBI, 123 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 747 plate appearances. He was worth 8.1 WAR, according to Baseball Reference, joining Matt Chapman (2018) as the second Athletic to post an 8+ WAR season since 2002.

If Semien were to test free agency, he would likely be the best shortstop on the market. He would be joined by Andrelton Simmons, Jonathan Villar, Nick Ahmed, and Jurickson Profar. However, the slow-moving and oftentimes stagnant free agent market in recent years has incentivized many players to seek extensions rather than hit the open market.

Ramon Laureano’s suspension reduced from 6 games to 4

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OAKLAND, Calif. — Oakland Athletics center fielder Ramon Laureano had a six-game suspension reduced to four games Friday after appealing the penalty for his role in a benches-clearing brawl with the rival Houston Astros.

Major League Baseball said a settlement had been reached and the A’s were informed of the decision. Laureano was set to begin the four-game suspension Friday night and will miss a three-game weekend Bay Bridge Series against the San Francisco Giants. After sitting out Monday at Arizona, he will be eligible to play Tuesday against the Diamondbacks.

Astros hitting coach Alex Cintron received a 20-game suspension and a fine Tuesday for his role in the fracas at Oakland last Sunday. Laureano also received a fine.

Cintron’s suspension is the longest for an on-field transgression in 15 years, since Texas pitcher Kenny Rogers received 20 games for his altercation with two cameramen in 2005.

Laureano was hit by a pitch from Humberto Castellanos with one out in the seventh inning of Oakland’s 7-2 victory – the third time he got hit in the series and the fifth time overall for an A’s batter. Houston players weren’t plunked at all. He pointed at Castellanos and began exchanging words with a gesturing Cintron then left first base, threw down his batting helmet and began sprinting toward the 41-year-old Cintron.

Astros catcher Dustin Garneau tackled Laureano before the A’s outfielder got to the hitting coach. Laureano is a former Astros player and the rival clubs have been the top two teams in the AL West the past two years. A’s pitcher Mike Fiers, another former Houston player, revealed the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal in November to The Athletic.