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.
On Sunday, we learned that while the Nationals would continue to pay their minor leaguers throughout the month of June, their weekly stipend would be lowered by 25 percent, from $400 to $300. In an incredible act of solidarity, Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle and his teammates put out a statement, saying they would be covering the missing $100 from the stipends.
After receiving some criticism, the Nationals reversed course, agreeing to pay their minor leaguers their full $400 weekly stipend.
Doolittle and co. have not withdrawn their generosity. On Wednesday, Doolittle released another statement, saying that he and his major league teammates would continue to offer financial assistance to Nationals minor leaguers through the non-profit organization More Than Baseball.
The full statement:
Washington Nationals players were excited to learn that our minor leaguers will continue receiving their full stipends. We are grateful that efforts have been made to restore their pay during these challenging times.
We remain committed to supporting them. Nationals players are partnering with More Than Baseball to contribute funds that will offer further assistance and financial support to any minor leaguers who were in the Nationals organization as of March 1.
We’ll continue to stand with them as we look forward to resuming our 2020 MLB season.
Kudos to Doolittle and the other Nationals continuing to offer a helping hand in a trying time. The players shouldn’t have to subsidize their employers’ labor expenses, but that is the world we live in today.