The Toronto Blue Jays are interested in keeping second baseman Marcus Semien and starting pitcher Robbie Ray around long-term.
"According to sources, they’ve attempted to sign Semien to an extension, without success to this point, and plan to approach Ray about a new deal this offseason," Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Sunday.
The Blue Jays inked Semien and Ray to one-year deals last offseason.
Both contracts have clearly paid off: Semien entered Sunday with 81 RBI and an .858 OPS. He homered Sunday against the Oakland Athletics to give himself 35 on the year.
Ray, who started against Oakland on Sunday, entered the ballgame with a 10-5 record, an American League-leading 2.71 ERA and 202 strikeouts in 159.1 frames. He added to those totals by tossing 6.2 shutout innings while striking out 10.
However, Semien is now one of the best middle infielders in baseball, and Ray is a strikeout artist and established ace. Both figure to land lucrative, long-term contracts following All-Star-caliber seasons.
The question is whether the Jays are able to retain both of them. Toronto has the misfortune of being fourth in a competitive American League East division despite holding a 73-62 record. Semien and Ray are big reasons why the team has been so competitive despite the brutal schedule.
As Rosenthal noted, however, Ray might be the more valuable player if the Jays could only sign one, and that's because Toronto already has an excellent young lineup without the former Oakland Athletics shortstop. The Blue Jays have an embarrassment of riches, including Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Teoscar Hernandez.
The Jays have an above-average pitching staff that ranks fifth in the American League with a 3.89 ERA, but Ray is the clear ace on the team, and his efforts have proved to be invaluable this year.
For now, the Jays are fighting to remain in the American League wild-card race with under a month left in the season.