The Nationals have several spots to fill, a solid chunk of money to possibly do it with and lots of quality options to choose from.
The free agent list this year is not about superstar names. Rather, it’s about depth and quality. Even the second tier of free agents holds value, especially if their contracts are brief and costs suppressed by a mediocre market.
As part of our ongoing look at individuals who could fit in different places for the Nationals, here is a look at former Oakland shortstop Marcus Semien.
What he does well: Infield pop. Semien’s massive 2019 season made him an MVP finalist. His .892 OPS at shortstop for Oakland gave the A’s yet another low-cost breakthrough player. That season boosted his pay to $13 million for 2020 -- had the season been normal. He always hit home runs at a solid pace before breaking out for 33 HRs and 43 doubles in 2019. He also stole 10 bases while playing improved defense at shortstop.
Where he fits with the Nationals: No, the Nationals are not in pursuit of a shortstop. But they do need a third baseman. Semien made 44 starts at third base and appeared in 50 games there overall in his career. He’s poor there defensively: 13 errors in just 401 innings. However, overall, Semien has become a better defender at shortstop year by year. His defensive WAR in both 2018 and 2019 showed positive numbers, placing him as at least an above average defender in the spot. So, the Nationals could put Semien at third base and make him the leadoff hitter. Even if Semien is a mix of his 2018 and 2019 seasons -- and his miserable 2020 is a throwaway -- he would be a large upgrade at third base.
More Nationals Free Agency Hunt: