Cincinnati Reds: This free agent shortstop would be the best fit

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 11: Marcus Semien #10 of the Oakland Athletics wears a 9/11 patch on his hat before a game. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 11: Marcus Semien #10 of the Oakland Athletics wears a 9/11 patch on his hat before a game. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Marcus Semien would fill the Reds hole at shortstop.

Reports surfaced yesterday that the Cincinnati Reds will be in the market for a starting shortstop this offseason. That should come as a great relief to fans. The question now becomes, which direction do they go? Will Nick Krall try to swing a blockbuster trade with the Cleveland Indians, or decide to sign a shortstop in free agency. If the Reds choose the latter, Marcus Semien is the best fit.

What we do know, according to the rumors yesterday, is that Cincinnati’s front office is not comfortable entering the season with either Kyle Farmer or José García entering the 2021 season as the team’s starting shortstop. While both Farmer and García showed to be capable defenders while fielding the position, neither really produced at the dish. That’s where Semien comes in.

Marcus Semien had a down year in 2020, but he’s not alone. A bevy of stars, including former MVP  Christian Yelich, struggled to get their footing in the condensed 2020 season. Semien hit just .223/.305/.374 with seven home runs and 22 RBIs.

However, the year prior, Semien was in the hunt for the American League MVP award, finishing third behind Mike Trout and Alex Bregman. That season, Marcus slashed .285/.369/.522 with 43 doubles, 33 home runs, and 92 RBIs. Before his breakout season in 2019, Semien was at least an average hitter the previous four seasons. He hit a combined .250/.312/.407.

Semien returned to form during the 2020 postseason, slashing .250/.308/.583 in thee Wild Card Series against the Chicago White Sox, and then put on a clinic in the ALDS. Semien hit .533/.611/.733 and posted an outstanding 1.344 in four games against the Houston Astros.

Semien’s lack of consistency could bode well for the Cincinnati Reds, who will looking for someone willing to take a short-term deal. Given Semien’s lack of production last season, he may want to take the path that Didi Gregorius did last winter and bet on himself.

After not finding a multi-year deal to his liking last offseason, Gregorius decided to sign a one-year “prove-it” deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. Following an abbreviated 2019 campaign, Gregorius put up solid numbers in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and will hope to parlay that into a multi-year contract this offseason.

With José García being on the cusp of making a permanent shift to the major leagues, it doesn’t make much sense for the Reds to chase after any player looking for more than a two-year deal. If Cincinnati could coerce a player like Semien to take a one-year deal with a team-option, that’d be the best case scenario.

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Regardless of who the Cincinnati Reds settle on to be their starting shortstop in 2020, thy can’t overpay and can’t prevent García from ascending to the majors. At the same time, the Reds offense needs to be bolstered. With the club looking to cut payroll, adding an offensive-minded shortstop makes the most sense. Semien is the best free agent fit for the Reds this winter.