Former Cal baseball players Marcus Semien and Mark Canha are a combined $201 million richer this week after each agreed to free-agent deals.
Semien will receive a seven-year, $175 million contract from the Texas Rangers. The 31-year-old infielder, who played on a one-year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays this summer, boosted his stock by finishing third in the American League MVP voting for the second time in three seasons.
Canha, 32, will play the 2022 and ’23 seasons for the New York Mets after agreeing to a two-year contract worth $26.5 million or $13.25 million per season. A pretty nice raise for Canha, who earned $6.925 million with the Oakland A’s this year.
*** Check below for how the salaries Semien and Canha will be earning compare to those of other current Cal professional athletes.
Semien, who played at Cal through 2011, had a breakout season with the A’s in 2019, batting .285 with 33 home runs, 92 RBI and 87 extra-base hits. But when his production dipped in the COVID-shortened 2020 season — a .223 batting average with seven home runs in 53 games — his value on the free-agent market also was impacted.
So he signed a one-year deal with the Blue Jays, betting on himself that he’d have a rebound season and set himself up for a rich multi-year deal.
He won that bet.
The Jays moved Semien from shortstop to second base and he set an all-time record for the position by hitting 45 home runs, He also drove in 102 runs, scored 115 and led the majors with 86 extra-base hits. His 7.1 wins-above-replacement score was second-best in all of MLB.
Semien was an All-Star for the first time and finished behind Shohei Ohtani and his Blue Jays’ teammate, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., in the MVP voting.
By earning a Gold Glove at second base, Semien showed himself to be a versatile infielder, capable of playing either position up the middle. He was considered a sub-par shortstop early in his A’s career but worked on his craft to become better than average.
One baseball insider, talking with ESPN’s Buster Olney, said of Semien, “I would put my head on the pillow every night knowing that the money I spent to sign him is going to be worth it."
Canha, who completed his Cal career in 2010, can be plugged in to any outfield position or first base by the Mets.
He’s played his first seven major league seasons with the A’s, compiling a .244 batting average with 89 home runs and 244 RBI. He hit 17 homers and scored a career-best 93 runs in 2021.
Here’s how the salaries Semien and Canha will receive stack up vs. other current Cal professional athletes:
— AARON RODGERS, Green Bay Packers: Has a four-year $134 million deal through 2023, worth an average of $33.5 million per season.
— JARED GOFF, Detroit Lions: His deal matches Rodgers - $134 million for four seasons through 2024, an average of $33.5 mil per.
— JAYLEN BROWN, Boston Celtics: Has a four-year contract through 2023-24 for $106,333,334, which works out to $26,583,334 per season.
— MARCUS SEMIEN, Texas Rangers: Semien’s seven-year, $175 million deal will pay him an average of $25 million per season through 2028.
— KEENAN ALLEN, Los Angeles Chargers: Signed to a four-year, $80.1 million deal through 2024. His annual paycheck: $20,025,000.
— CAMERON JORDAN, New Orleans Saints: Has a three-year deal through 2023 worth a total of $52.5 million or $17.5 million per season.
— MARVIN JONES, Jacksonville Jaguars: Is tied to the Saints this season and next after signing a two-year deal totaling $14.5 million, or $7.25 million per season.
-- MARK CANHA, New York Mets: Has agreed to a two-year deal valued at $26.5 million, an average of $13.25 million each for 2022 and '23.
— COLLIN MORIKAWA: As an individual sport, golf pays based on each week’s performance. Morikawa, just 2 1/2 years into his PGA career, already has earned $15.37 million in prize money, an average of more than $5 million per year since he turned pro in June 2019.
— ANDREW VAUGHN, Chicago White Sox: Vaughn received a $7,221,200 signing bonus with the White Sox after he was drafted in 2019. His 2021 salary as a MLB rookie was reported to be $570,500. Adding the two numbers and dividing by three suggests Vaughn earned an average of about $2.6 million for each of his three seasons as a professional.
— DeSEAN JACKSON, Las Vegas Raiders: Jackson, who earned an average salary of more than $11 million from 2017 through ’19, is working on a one-year deal with the Raiders worth $2 million.
Cover photo of Marcus Semien by Nick Wosika, USA Today
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo