The race for at least two of the top names in MLB free agency could be moving quickly … or it could all be a smokescreen to entice the Yankees.
As the GM meetings wrapped this week in California, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported the markets for star shortstops Corey Seager and Marcus Semien could accelerate with the goal of getting a contract signed before an expected labor stoppage begins Dec. 2.
Passan described it as an “unexpected turn” for the two Scott Boras clients, though he warned it “left executives wondering whether they really do want to sign early or it’s a play to draw out teams like the New York Yankees.” Boras clients are known to have more prolonged free-agent negotiations (see: Harper, Bryce), though Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg did sign relatively quickly after the 2019 season.
The Yankees have been closely connected to both players in addition to the Astros’ Carlos Correa, the consensus top three players in a loaded class of free-agent shortstops. GM Brian Cashman repeatedly has said the Yankees plan to upgrade at the position after the Gleyber Torres experiment bombed last season. Torres was moved back to second base down the stretch.
The Dodgers have interest in bringing back Seager, even with another high-end shortstop in Trea Turner on the roster. The Rangers and Mariners are also among the teams expected to spend big this offseason.
“I think we have Semien and Seager on the market, these people have character that is so understood by teams because of who they are, what they’ve achieved and what they’ve done,” Boras said this week.
“In Marcus’ case, he kind of brings a charge to the batter’s box,” Boras added, in an elaborate electronics metaphor. “He insulates the middle infield. He’s truly a modern-day Semien-conductor. And we all know there’s a shortage of chips worldwide, so you can imagine the people that come.”
All free-agent talks will be paused on Dec. 2 unless a new collective bargaining agreement is in place. That could push talks back to February (or beyond) and lead to a frenzy of signings before spring training begins.
It’s a frenzy Semien and Seager might be eager to avoid.