With the World Series over, Major League Baseball turned immediately to the subject of free agency, and nowhere will that subject be more impactful than Oakland.
The A’s have 10 of the 147 free agents listed by MLB, including shortstop Marcus Semien and closer Liam Hendriks. Only the New York Mets, with 11 players including former A’s outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, have more free agents.
Semien, who finished third in the AL Most Valuable Player Voting in 2019, struggled through 2020, but perked up in the postseason, including putting together a monster .533/.611/.733 slash line in the ALDS against Houston.
Hendriks was at the heart of a bullpen that was Oakland’s backbone in 2020 as the A’s won the American League West and the wild card round against the White Sox before being bounced by the Astros in the AL Division Series. Hendriks had saves in 14 of 15 tries has was the winner of the AL Mariano Rivera Reliever of the Year award.
It’s possible that the A’s might dangle a $18.9 million qualifying offer in front of Semien, and after the poor numbers in the 60-game regular season that he might consider it, but both those might be just wishful thinking. No A’s player has ever made $18.9 million in a regular season.
“In a perfect world, he wants to be here,” manager Bob Melvin said at season’s end. “There’s no question about that. It will probably take some time.”
Semien might consider a slightly lower one-year deal to burnish his stats after his worst Oakland season, including a .233/.305/.374 slash line. But given the start-stop-start-pause-restart that was the season in pandemic, numbers around baseball were wildly skewed. That being the case, the actual numbers may be discounted by teams looking to add a top-of-the-lineup shortstop.
Here’s the A’s complete list:
Starters: Mike Fiers, Mike Minor
Relievers: Liam Hendriks, T.J. McFarland, Yusmeiro Petit, Joakim Soria
Infielders: Tommy La Stella, Jake Lamb, Marcus Semien
Outfielders: Robbie Grossman
All teams have exclusive negotiating rights to their free agents for the next five days. After that, the players are free to talk with any of the 30 teams
Unless the A’s ownership group under majority owner John Fisher dramatically change their ways, the A’s are likely to lose Semien and Hendriks. Minor, La Stella and Lamb, all picked up midseason and all with an All-Star selection on their resumes, aren’t likely to be back, either.
Perhaps Grossman or one of the relievers will return. In the last two years, the A’s have retained just one free agent each season, reliever Jake Diekman last year and Fiers in 2018. In 2017, the A’s in-season moves meant they didn’t have any free agents on their slate.
Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3
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