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“MLB free agency” is a term used to describe the process of players becoming free agents and then signing with a new team. It is also referred as “free agent” or “free agent market.” Teams can sign up to three players during this period. Read more in detail here: mlb free agency.

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Raise your hand if you, like me, said something unprintable when you learned Semien, Marcus’s new contract conditions and the club that offered them. A knee-jerk response, which isn’t necessarily sensible or accurate, is what we call it. Your true reaction is what you come up with after considering all of the circumstances. Even with unexpected news, you can usually find a rationale and a rhyme.

After giving this arrangement some thought, I still have a moderately unprintable thought, but it’s a term that’s less harsh than my knee-jerk reaction — and it has a slightly more positive meaning.

Semien and his agents agreed to a seven-year, $175 million agreement with the Texas Rangers, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. It’s by far the most lucrative free-agent contract of the year, matching the average yearly worth of Justin Verlander’s agreement with the Astros ($25 million) but for a half-decade longer.

Semien becomes the second member of the long-awaited shortstop free-agent class of 2021-22 to find a long-term home after landing a new club (the first being Lindor, Francisco, who agreed to an extension with the Mets last season). Let’s take a look at the class using some data from baseball-reference.com:

2019-2021 ELITE SHORTSTOPS

Player Age* G OPS+ WAR Contract
Marcus Semien 31 377 130 15.9 7/$175M
Trevor’s Adventures 29 346 114 13.7 ?
Carlos Correa is a Colombian politician. 27 281 126 12.6 ?
Javier Baez is a Spanish actor. 29 335 106 11.9 ?
Francisco Lindor 28 328 110 9.2 10/$341M
Corey Seager Corey Seager Corey Seager Corey Sea 28 281 131 8.7 ?

Even among the Rangers’ high-level free-agent objectives, it’s worth noting that Semien is far from the end of the Rangers’ high-level free-agent targets, according to Passan. Still, for the time being, we’ll examine his position as if he were the crown gem of the Rangers’ winter drive, not simply a diamond.

Semien is a fantastic player who just had his second MVP season in three years, sandwiched by a disappointing pandemic season in 2020. He’s likely the most prolific of the star-level shortstops, thanks in part to his endurance as well as his excellent productivity. He is, without a doubt, the group’s oldest member.

That latter point is important because, as the Rangers’ brain trust (Jon Daniels and Chris Young) know, paying someone for what they’ve already done rather than what they’re going to accomplish is the biggest error you can make in free agency. The success of Semien’s and the Rangers’ deal is solely dependent on how the names on the above table stack up for 2022 and beyond, not the previous three years, as shown above.

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Here’s the contract that many prognosticators projected Semien would receive as a reality check:

  • ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel has a five-year deal for $110 million.

  • The Athletic’s Jim Bowden: five years, $148 million

  • Six years, $138 million, according to MLB trade rumors

  • FanGraphs’ Ben Clemens: four years, $120 million

  • FanGraphs’ crowdsourced average is 4.55 years and $113.5 million.

Any surprise response was clearly warranted. The contract is longer than anybody expected, but the average yearly value of $25 million is in line with expectations. Nonetheless, the deal’s duration means that the overall contract worth exceeds expectations, a feature that might pique the interest of bidders for the remaining star-level free players.

On the other side, one might argue that this is exactly what happens when you go for the top of the free-agent market, particularly if you’re a noncontender wanting to establish some respectability in your rebuilding effort. Happy Rangers fans may recall that the Blue Jays awarded George Springer, who was around the same age as Semien at the time, a six-year, $150 million deal last winter, despite the fact that Springer lacks Semien’s track record for longevity.

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The issue that concerns me is the opportunity cost. Could you have gone to 10, 11, or 12 years and a greater yearly value for Carlos Correa or Seager if you were prepared to offer Semien this much money for this long? You’re still likely to obtain a deal with an upside-down back end, but at the very least, you’ll get more peak seasons, some of which will hopefully coincide with your team’s true return to contention.

When I was recommending daring moves for each club last week, one of my not-so-unique suggestions for the Rangers was to sign one of the top free-agent shortstops. I didn’t say who they should target, but when I ran down the list of options, Semien wasn’t on it.

Semien’s age and the Rangers’ position as a non-contender, which is unlikely to alter in 2022, are the two reasons behind this. After a 102-loss season in its first full season in a new stadium, it’s understandable that Texas would want to make a big statement. Was this, however, the correct splash to make?

Perhaps the Rangers’ discussions with great shortstops convinced them that this was the only way to make a big mark. If it came down to it, would you rather have Semien or nothing? Semien becomes a foregone conclusion. And if they sign another excellent shortstop (see below), this issue will be irrelevant.

Apart from Semien’s age, everything I said last week in favor of spending much on a great shortstop still remains. Semien, an outstanding shortstop with the ability to hit in the power position of the batting order if necessary, pulls the Rangers’ young squad into sharper focus. Isiah Kiner-Falefa can go to third base until Josh Jung is ready (which might be in 2022), at which point Kiner-Falefa can transition to a fantastic utility player. Semien can play in the center of the infield with Nick Solak, who is undervalued.

Not to mention the fact that Semien just earned a Gold Glove at second base in Toronto. Because of the flexibility that both Kiner-Falefa and Solak bring to the mix, the Rangers could want to retain him there. If the Rangers do indeed sign another free-agent shortstop, Semien will undoubtedly become a cornerstone staple. Because of Semien’s now-proven ability to play another position at a high level, Texas has a lot of possibilities.

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• Way-too-early Power Rankings for 2022 »

• Passan: ESPN+’s early free-agent tiers »

• Frequently Asked Questions for each non-playoff club (ESPN+) «

So it all boils down to how much value Semien can be anticipated to keep in terms of output now that he’s in his 30s. It’s a reasonable issue since, as excellent as he was in 2019 and 2021, he’s been below league average in every other season.

For the time being, this is a minor worry, since Semien seems to be a dedicated player who has raised his game to a more sustainable level. There’s nothing in his stats that suggests they’re the result of bad luck or his home ballparks. He’s just improved.

Semien, meanwhile, is 31 years old and a middle infielder, so the risk of his fading into mediocrity sooner rather than later is greater than with any of the other top free-agent shortstops.

There are two ways in which the Rangers may profit from this deal. The first is for Semien to stay at this level for the next four or five years at the very least. The second option is for Texas to return to contention sooner than anticipated, taking advantage of Semien’s contract’s early years, and the Rangers seem willing to spend the money to do so.

Whatever happens, one thing is certain: with Semien on the club, the Rangers are a better team now than they were at the conclusion of the 2021 season. And, if they overpaid a bit to get a head start on their reconstruction, who’s to say they were wrong in doing so (with or without profanity)? Especially if this turns out to be just the first step on a long and winding road.

Grade: B

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The “top 20 mlb free agents 2022” is a list of the top 20 MLB free agents in 2022. The list includes players like Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, and Clayton Kershaw.

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