MLB Free Agents 2020: Predictions, Landing Spots for Marcus Semien, Infielders

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 16, 2020

This is a 2020 photo of Marcus Semien of the Oakland Athletics baseball team. This image reflects the 2020 active roster as of Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, when this image was taken. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Darron Cummings/Associated Press

MLB free agency should be fascinating this offseason for reasons beyond the financial uncertainty of a sports world stuck in the middle of a pandemic.

There are difference-makers on the market, and there's a chance they could be looking to relocate.

We'll zero in on three of the best infielders available and project where they might be headed.

                    

Marcus Semien, SS, Oakland A's

If Semien's 2019 season had a soundtrack, it'd be the endless loop of a cash register's ring.

A solid player in previous campaigns, the slick fielder suddenly emerged as a full-fledged superstar. In case that sounds at all hyperbolic, just realize he paired top-tier defense with a .285/.369/.522 hitting slash, 33 homers, 92 RBI and 123 runs. Altogether, he did enough to finish third in the AL MVP voting.

Surely, that kind of production makes him a keeper for the A's, right? Well, it's not that simple.

"The A's historically do not make it rain on players no matter how much they're worth on the open market," NBC Sports Bay Area's Jessica Kleinschmidt wrote. "The last time the A's dug the deep in their pockets was a six-year, $66 million contract extension in 2004 for third baseman Eric Chavez. That was the biggest deal in franchise history, and still is to this day."

Even in a depressed market, Semien could zip past that average salary and, subsequently, out of Oakland's price range. Given the Philadelphia Phillies' willingness to spend, and the fact they only gave Didi Gregorius a one-year deal, Semien might find his next home in the City of Brotherly Love.

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Prediction: Semien signs a four-year contract with the Phillies.

                  

Justin Turner, 3B, Los Angeles Dodgers

Despite seemingly annual bouts with the injury bug, Turner has been solid as a rock for the Dodgers since arriving as an under-the-radar free agent in 2014.

Over six seasons in L.A., he has typically planted his batting average around .300 and his on-base percentage in the neighborhood of .400. And while he doesn't have prodigious power, he has hit 20-plus homers in three of the past four seasons, including the 27 he clubbed in 135 games last season. Add locker room leadership to the equation, and it's easy to see how he's earned mainstay status for the Dodgers.

But those things are always subject to change given the business of baseball. With the 35-year-old's defense declining, and the Dodgers employing a number of potential replacements, this could be his last go-round in Hollywood.

"Obviously it's reality," Turner told reporters in February. "It's a possibility. But this is something I try not to focus on or think about. I have to worry about what's in front of me today and we'll worry about tomorrow tomorrow."

This relationship may have run its course. The Dodgers pursued Anthony Rendon last offseason, and they'll probably have to pony up to keep Mookie Betts in this one. That may not leave enough in the coffers for Turner, who shouldn't have trouble attracting win-now suitors.

Prediction: Turner signs two-year deal with Red Sox.

               

Yuli Gurriel, 1B, Houston Astros

Long a solid source of batting average, Gurriel powered his way to legitimate-slugger status in 2019.

He entered the campaign with 34 career homers across two-plus seasons. He promptly belted 31 in 144 games, while simultaneously setting personal bests of 104 RBI and 85 runs.

It will be interesting to see how the Astros (and the market at large) react to Gurriel's power surge, though.

That was his age-35 season, and the baseball was...let's just say live. He also piled a ton of the production into a short, scorching-hot streak. He hit nearly half of his home runs during the 24-game stretch from June 23 to July 23 (15), and at one point he homered in five consecutive contests.

There are reasons for the market to cast a skeptical eye toward Gurriel, which could keep his price tag at a comfortable point for the Astros.

Prediction: Gurriel signs two-year deal with Astros.