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Report: Marcus Semien, Robbie Ray Receive Qualifying Contract Offers from Blue Jays

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVNovember 7, 2021

Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The Toronto Blue Jays are reportedly giving second baseman Marcus Semien the $18.4 million qualifying offer, per MLB Network's Jon Heyman.

Heyman also noted Robbie Ray will receive the one-year offer from Toronto. 

Every player who receives the one-year qualifying offer has until Nov. 17 to accept or reject it. 

A player can still re-sign with his old team if he rejects the offer, but he will also be allowed to negotiate with other clubs as a free agent. 

If the player signs with another team, his previous club will receive a draft pick as compensation. 

Semien is coming off a career-best season, posting a triple slash of .265/.334/.538 with 45 home runs, 102 runs batted in and 15 steals. He slid over to second base after signing the one-year contract with the Blue Jays. However, he has maintained he sees himself more as a shortstop.

"I still see myself as a shortstop. I've been playing the position for so long. Now I go over there to second, and I'm hitting more home runs, so it's all good. I've never had my name in any record book, so it's really cool," Semien told reporters

The Oakland Athletics chose not to offer Semien a qualifying last offseason, leading him to sign a one-year, $18 million deal in Toronto. 

Extending Semien this qualifying offer is a matter of semantics; it's a near-guarantee that he will receive a massive long-term contract on the open market.

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The Blue Jays are undoubtedly interested in bringing Semien back, but this protects them in the form of draft compensation if he priced himself out of their market. 

Ray's decision is fascinating to examine. It would seem unlikely that he takes the one-year tender. The 30-year-old is coming off the best season of his career, leading the AL in ERA (2.84), innings pitched (193.1), strikeouts (248) and WHIP (1.05).

But that came after a 2020 season split between the Blue Jays and Arizona Diamondbacks in which he walked 45 batters in 51.2 innings. 

Ray has historically been someone who will throw a lot of pitches because he racks up plenty of strikeouts and walks. Before this season, the southpaw has never averaged fewer than 3.5 walks per nine innings in a season since making his MLB debut in 2014. He averaged 5.1 free passes per nine innings in 69 appearances from 2018-20. 

This isn't a particularly strong market for free-agent starting pitchers. Ray, Kevin Gausman and Marcus Stroman are arguably the top three available. Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw and Carlos Rodon have high ceilings, but concerns about age and/or durability could limit the potential offers they will receive. 

Ray's age and durability will make him an attractive option for teams seeking help in the rotation. It's up to him to decide if it's worth testing the market to get a long-term deal or take the one-year deal from Toronto. 

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