MLB Rumors: What Marcus Semien is asking for in free agency

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Is Semien's asking price too steep for Red Sox? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Marcus Semien has been rumored to be on the Boston Red Sox' radar as a potential fit in free agency. But if they hope to sign the slugging middle infielder this offseason, they'll have to pay a pretty penny.

Semien is asking for more than $200 million on his next contract, according to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal. That hefty asking price comes after a bounceback 2021 season in which he belted 45 home runs and finished third in American League MVP voting with the Toronto Blue Jays.

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Here's the full The Athletic excerpt:

"Semien’s new agent, Scott Boras, however, is said to be seeking considerably more than those amounts, perhaps more than $200 million. Semien’s performance from 2019 to ’21 would appear to justify such an investment. Even though he struggled in the shortened 2020 season, he is still the major-league leader among position players in both fWAR and bWAR over those three years.

"The problem for Semien, at least when considering the current way clubs evaluate players, is that he turned 31 on Sept. 17. The last free-agent hitter to clear $200 million at that age or older was Robinson Canó, who signed a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Mariners entering his age 31 season in December 2013. George Springer, who a year ago was almost exactly the same age as Semien is today, landed a six-year, $150 million deal on the open market with the Blue Jays."

Given Semien's production over his last two full seasons, he should have no problem finding a club willing to spend that kind of cash. It also helps that he has plenty of experience at both second base and shortstop. He earned his first Glove Glove award last season after moving over to second for Toronto.

The one major question mark with Semien heading into 2022 is his age. The former Oakland Athletics star recently turned 31 and, as Rosenthal notes, the last free-agent hitter to sign for $200 million at that age or older was Robinson Canó in 2013 with the Seattle Mariners. There's an obvious risk that comes with signing a player over 30 who's only had two great offensive seasons in his nine-year career.

A $200 million contract for a 31-year-old middle infielder doesn't seem like a legitimate option for Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox front office. Bargain buys similar to last year's Kiké Hernandez and Hunter Renfroe signings are more likely. That said, Bloom mentioned the team's focus on the middle infield during his press conference on Monday.

“The short answer is yes,” Bloom said when asked about prioritizing middle infield in free agency. “I think we have enough flexibility and versatility with this roster that it gives us a lot of different ways to add impact and add talent. We owe it to ourselves to look into all those avenues.

"Obviously there are a couple hundred players in any given winter who are free agents. Ultimately, you’re going to explore a lot of things that aren’t going to come to pass. But sometimes things that may not on the surface look like much of a need end up being really good mutual fits and you make yourself better. So we’re trying to stay active with as many groups of players as possible, even if it’s in an area that we think it’s more fortifying a strength.”

Semien reportedly is "increasingly likely" to sign before Dec. 1. If Boston remains in the mix, it'll have plenty of competition for his services including their archrivals, the New York Yankees.