As the 2021 season approaches, the Brewers still have some holes to fill on the team, particularly in the infield. The current depth chart in the infield has Daniel Vogelbach, Keston Hiura, Luis Urias, and Orlando Arcia as the starters for the 2021 season, and while there is a lot of potential in that group, there’s also some room for improvement. One option could be Marcus Semien, who the Brewers have reportedly been in talks with, among the Twins and other teams.
Adding Semien would be a strong upgrade to the infield, as he has put together a good career in Oakland after beginning his career with the White Sox. While his numbers in 2020 were a bit lackluster (.223/.305/.374 with a 92 wRC+), his 2019 campaign was stellar. In that season, he finished third in the AL MVP vote as he posted a .285/.369/.522 batting line and 138 wRC+, along with 33 home runs and 92 RBI. Over his career (two seasons with the White Sox, six with the Athletics), his overall batting line is .254/.322/.425 with a wRC+ of 105. Though the 2019 season may end up being an anomaly, Semien has been solid overall. His wRC+ was between 97 and 98 in every year from 2015 through 2018, and even in a “down” year in 2020, it still was at 92. At 30 years old (turning 31 in September), there’s plenty of reason to believe that he could keep that up.
Semien would also provide a strong presence on defense. Between 2018 and 2019, he had a total of 26 Defensive Runs Saved above average. That did dip in 2020 to -5 Defensive Runs Saved, though. However, his Ultimate Zone Rating has been steady, with his UZR over 150 games above average in the last three seasons (between 6.4 in 2018 and 4.8 in 2020). Though he hasn’t won a Gold Glove, he’s also not going to be a liability in the field.
The biggest question here is if the Brewers can get him on a deal that works for them. Though there is some debate about what Semien could get on the free agent market this offseason, predictions tend to put him around the $15 million per season range. In a discussion on MLB Trade Rumors, Steve Adams noted that predictions had Semien in the three to four year deal range, earning between $16 million and $18 million per season. However, in their own predictions, MLBTR predicted a short term deal of 1 year at $14 million for Semien, so he can return to the market and try for a better deal after the 2021 season. While that would be at the limit of what the Brewers are looking to add for payroll this season, they have taken shots before on one year deals (Mike Moustakas, Yasmani Grandal). If the Brewers think that Luis Urias or Orlando Arcia can grow with a bit more time, a one-year deal to bridge that gap could work out well for the team.
Also, on MLB Trade Rumors, Mark Polishuk notes that the entire NL Central has been quiet this offseason, with the division just making some general moves but not much in the form of big acquisitions. If there’s an opportunity to compete for the division title in 2021 because the rest of the division is standing still, would the Brewers take that chance? While a long term deal may not work for the Brewers and Semien, if there’s a chance for a one-year deal for Semien to prove himself, the Brewers may be able to sign him and improve the infield for 2021.