MLB Rumors: Latest Free-Agency Buzz on Marcus Semien, Kevin Gausman, Kris Bryant
The MLB world might be stuck at a standstill due to the ongoing labor dispute, but that hasn't completely stalled movement on the rumor mill.
With more time to reflect, retrace and...well, wish baseball was back already, reporters have time to dig deeper into some of the biggest signings secured before the lockout.
Those discussions lead the latest rumor roundup, along with one household name who didn't put pen to paper yet.
At Least 5 Teams Pursued Marcus Semien
Even amid a crowded crop of free-agent middle infielders, Marcus Semien managed to stand out.
His numbers could stand next to anyone's. In 2019, he landed third in AL MVP voting by setting career-highs of 33 home runs and 92 RBI, while also tallying 10 stolen bases. In 2021, he again took third in MVP voting, only this time he bettered all of those numbers (45 homers, 102 RBI and 15 steals) while earning his first ever selections as an All-Star, Silver Slugger and Gold Glove winner.
The market took notice.
"The Detroit Tigers told [Semien's agent Scott] Boras that they were in," ESPN's Jeff Passan reported. "The next day, the Texas Rangers came...to say the same. The Toronto Blue Jays wanted to re-sign him. The San Francisco Giants loved him. So did the Seattle Mariners."
Each team that expressed interest effectively rang the cash register for Semien, and he ultimately cashed out with a seven-year, $175 million deal with the Rangers.
Mets, Blue Jays Had Bidding War for Kevin Gausman; New York Made Highest Offer
Timing is everything to MLB free agents, and for Kevin Gausman, the 2021 offseason was his pristine, beachfront property.
The stars first aligned with the previously adequate starter suddenly rocketed into the elite ranks. The 2021 season, his first as an All-Star, featured one personal-best after the next, including 192 innings pitched, a 2.81 ERA and a 1.042 WHIP.
That was enough to spur the second critical development: a bidding war between a Blue Jays team looking to make the leap and the deep-pocketed, pitching-needy Mets. As Passan reported, the collective aggressiveness of Toronto and New York was enough to knock outs Gausman's other suitors, which included the Giants, Tigers, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels.
Toronto made the winning bid—but not the highest offer. As Passan relayed, the five-year, $110 million deal Gausman inked with the Blue Jays was "slightly less than the Mets were offering over the same term."
Market Never Materialized for Kris Bryant to Sign Before Lockout
Kris Bryant ranks among the most fascinating free agents on the market. Maybe that's why he remains unsigned.
His talent is obvious and can be tremendous. He opened his career by winning Rookie of the Year honors and captured the NL MVP already the next season. But he hasn't quite captured the same magic since, and his injury-riddled 2020 campaign was mostly abysmal (.206 average with a .293 on-base percentage across 34 games).
He enjoyed a bounce-back 2021 season, though, earning his fourth All-Star selection, clubbing 25 homers and tallying a combined 159 runs and RBI. He isn't an elite defender, but he is more versatile than most, being capable of manning first base, third base or any of the three outfield spots.
He could fit with any roster, but it's not clear if he can be a centerpiece kind of player. That makes him hard to price on the open market, which is why, as Passan reported, "[Bryant's] market never materialized to the point where he considered signing before Dec. 1."
Once the market reopens and Bryant can finalize a deal, it will be very interesting to see where he signs and for how much.