Reason Marcus Semien Fits With The SF Giants:
5. Qualifying Offer
Semien looked poised to reel in a nine-figure contract after his breakout 2019 campaign. His 37 home runs and .285/.369/.522 triple-slash line was easily the best marks of his career. Combined with his already stellar defense at shortstop and he had a compelling case to be one of the best players in the league. However, it remains the only season he’s produced an OPS+ above the league average of 100.
What to make of the shortened 2020 season is difficult to know. In 53 games, Semien blasted 7 home runs but failed to slug .375 and amassed an OPS below .700 for the first time since 2014. He remained strong defensively at shortstop and has still been a roughly league-average hitter since 2015, but that’s a far cry from the stardom he flashed in 2019.
Semien’s 2020 struggles and limited track-record of elite performance will surely limit his free-agent market. Given the expected dearth of spending following the revenue shortfalls, the A’s will very likely avoid offering him an $18.9 million qualifying offer. Without it, the Giants could sign Semien without sacrificing any draft capital.
Up to this point, Bryce Harper remains the only player with a qualifying offer targetted during Zaidi’s time in San Francisco. While the farm system has improved, the Giants have no plans to weaken their prospect standing in the future. Just take a look at the Dodgers model of success, and you’ll see what Zaidi hopes to accomplish in San Francisco: field a contender and maintain one of the ten best farm systems in the league.
With that in mind, qualifying offers will remain a limiting factor on the Giants targets this offseason. Of the remaining crop of free agents, Semien is easily the biggest name and probably the best player.
In a previous year (and with a team more willing to spend), Semien might still be a qualifying offer candidate. That fact won’t slip by Zaidi. The Giants front office is focused on surplus-value, and a player of Semien’s caliber is rarely available without needing to sacrifice prospects or draft picks. Expect them to at least kick the tires on that kind of opportunity.