The Major League Baseball free agent market typically features few, if any compelling shortstops. Naturally, in a year that makes no sense, that position is oozing with All-Star caliber players this offseason.
It was just one season ago that Semien finished third in American League Most Valuable Player Award voting, most notably posting an .892 OPS and driving in 92 runs. Underwhelming in the sport’s 60-game regular season, posting a .679 OPS, Semien poses a low-risk-high reward option.
Albeit he had a few hiccups in the Oakland Athletics’ AL Division Series loss to the Houston Astros, Semien is smooth at the middle infield position; he was fifth among MLB shortstops in DRS in 2019 (12). At the plate, he has a bit of a lanky swing. That said, he logs extra-base hits at a high level, can be effective anywhere in an order, and is one of the best all-around shortstops in the big leagues.
Whoever signs Semien is getting one of the premier shortstops in the sport and someone who will be an offensive mainstay.
Gregorius was knocked off the tracks after 2018, undergoing offseason Tommy John surgery that forced him to miss half of the 2019 regular season. That said, he bounced back nicely with the Phillies, posting a .827 OPS and totaling 40 RBIs.
The left-handed hitter has a quick, long swing that produces a lot of slug. Gregorius is difficult to strike out, as he’s adept at putting the ball in play and working the count; he’s as Steady Eddie in the field as he is at the plate, turning athletic double-plays and throwing to first base with conviction.
Gregorius had to settle for a one-year deal last offseason due to injury concerns; he shouldn’t have to worry about that this time around, as he started and played well in each of the Phillies’ 60 games.
Simmons is a gritty, fundamentally sound player. He has been one of the best shortstops in recent memory thanks to a slick glove and a tendency to make consistent contact.
Simmons has never totaled more than 67 strikeouts in a single season. He puts the ball in play, is a steady run producer, and can force mistakes with his speed (he stole 10-plus bags per season from 2016-19). Contact hitting bundled with getting on base and above-average defense doesn’t usually hit the open market.
The Angels shortstop is a soon-to-be savvy pickup for a team in need of a boost up the middle.
Galvis is an effective hitter from both sides of the plate and a reliable fixture at short. Sure, he hit just .220 last season. At the same time, he’s one of the most productive middle infielders in baseball.
From 2016-19, Galvis compiled 68 home runs and 265 RBIs. Galvis has a long, uppercutting swing that generates his power production. Defensively, he was ninth among MLB shortstops in DRS in 2019 (four). Additionally, he has extensive experience playing second base.
Galvis is a proven commodity in his prime. A little further down the free agent totem pole from a name-recognition standpoint, Galvis will be highway robbery for a team in search of a multi-faceted infielder.
This Shortstop Class is Unique
These types of shortstops rarely hit the open market. Whoever signs them is doing something that seldom takes place: adding a franchise shortstop in free agency.
Most of the best shortstops in the sport are either on rookie deals or were locked up by their respective teams. Those who aren’t are likely in line for a massive extension in the near future.
Semien, Gregorius, Simmons, and Galvis took different roads to free agency. Semien played for a low-payroll organization; Gregorius is coming off a one-year prove-it deal; Simmons has five seasons with the Angels under his belt, and he’s likely leaving given the hefty investments the organization has in Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon; Galvis was traded to the Reds in 2019, and the team could roll with highly touted youngster Jose Garcia next season.
When stacking them up against their shortstop peers, these four players are in the top half of the sport. Furthermore, unheralded players like Adeiny Hechavarria, Jose Peraza, and Jordy Mercer are respectable options at short; they are buy-low players with upside.
Yes, Trevor Bauer‘s offseason whereabouts and where the slew of high-octane outfielders (Marcell Ozuna, Michael Brantley, and George Springer) end up will garner the interest of the sport this offseason. Simultaneously, the free agent shortstop market is the deepest among specific position groups.
Last offseason Gregorius corralled a $14 million salary as the lone standout shortstop on the free agent market. Given how he has sizable company in free agency, there’s a chance all these players can be had for team-friendly deals; teams don’t have to bid for the same player.
This is the offseason to need a shortstop.