Five potential options for A's to consider at shortstop


Tuesday's free agency-related events sure are ones A's fans would like to forget.On Tuesday afternoon, longtime A's shortstop and Bay Area native Marcus Semien reportedly agreed to a one-year, $18 million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays, effectively ending the fan favorite's six-year tenure in Oakland. Minutes later, NBC Sports insider Alex Pavlovic linked former A's infielder Tommy La Stella to a three-year deal across the Bay to the Giants, marking yet another free agent the A's let walk this offseason.Their external options continued to dwindle, with Andrelton Simmons reportedly agreeing to a one-year, $10.5 million contract with the Minnesota Twins, and the Baltimore Orioles officially inking Freddy Galvis to a one-year deal.For fans, losing Semien -- a clubhouse leader and an intrinsic factor in the A's three straight playoff berths -- is frustrating enough, especially when the 30-year-old's reported deal falls just $900,000 below the $18.9 million qualifying offer the A's chose to not extend.Now the A's find themselves in quite the predicament -- who can they slot in at the most critical defensive position?As the A's find themselves without a clear, formidable replacement, here's a look at an array of candidates, both internal and external, to replace Semien at shortstop.

5 photos

Based on the A's depth chart, 27-year-old utilityman Vimael Machín likely is the frontrunner to replace Semien, but not necessarily as a full-time solution. Machín was added to the A's 40-man roster after the conclusion of the 2019 season and made his major league debut in 2020. He struggled at the plate, hitting .206.296/.238, but that could be partly attributed to inexperience and irregular playing time in an already shortened season. A stint in the Puerto Rico Winter League this offseason showcased much more offensive potential and having his left-handed bat in a right-handed dominant lineup certainly doesn't hurt. 

Machín is versatile enough defensively, but hasn't played shortstop regularly since college. He's better suited as a platoon option with prized defensive prospect Nick Allen waiting in the wings. Should the A's elect to stick in-house, Nate Orf, who already is on the 40-man roster, is a likely candidate to platoon early with Machín. Pete Kozma, who the A's signed to a minor league contract early in the offseason, should garner consideration as well until Allen is ready. 


Speaking of Allen.

The A's No. 4 prospect has yet to play over Class-A ball, but already has showcased a prolific defensive skill set and gained valuable reps at the A's alternate site last summer. Allen already has been deemed the A's shortstop of the future, although it's hard to determine just how far away that future remains. 

An ankle injury limited the 22-year-old to just 72 games in the 2019 minor league season, but he barreled his way to a .292/.363/.434 line. That was an encouraging sign for the A's, who had been concerned about his offensive projection in seasons prior. Allen isn't expected to be a power-hitter -- instead, he projects more of a spray-hitting contact bat that is prone to finding gaps. It was refreshing for the A's to see his stats reflect that. However, given his sparse professional experience, the A's could be hesitant to rush Allen up. 

Defensive value is trending upwards in the majors, and there's no question that Allen's glove is big league ready. But expect some trepidation from the A's from an offensive standpoint. Allen is without a doubt the best solution at shortstop, but barring a monstrous spring training performance, he probably remains a few months away from major league action. 


The A's signed Pete Kozma to a minor league contract and extended him a non-roster invite to spring training in November. Sure, Kozma, 32, doesn't exactly pack a hearty résumé, but he could be an inexpensive, formidable short-term replacement. He's a journeyman of sorts, spending the first five years of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals before making stops with the New York Yankees, Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers.

Kozma hasn't seen major league action since 2018, but he does have 235 games under his belt at shortstop. On the other hand, his offensive numbers aren't great, owning a career .215 average and .584 OPS.

The A's will experiment in any way they can internally, and Kozma at least will get an opportunity this spring. At best, however, he's another platoon option to go with Machín.


Chad Pinder has been the A's utility hero in seasons prior, and that won't change in 2021. It's plausible Oakland would want to try Pinder out at shortstop, given his established versatility. Although most of his big league experience has come in the outfield, Pinder primarily was a middle infielder in the minors, and was even drafted as a shortstop. 

There's no understating Pinder's importance to the A's as an utility player. His adaptability to slot in just about anywhere will likely incline Oakland to try him at shortstop. However, doing so would leave a gap at second. Tony Kemp is slated there, but he likely won't be an everyday player. 

The A's know what they will get with Pinder on both sides of the plate. Offensively, they have a contact bat with an innate ability to get on base. In the field, they'll have a flexible all-around option that continues to prove his worth. The only question is where will the A's find Pinder more valuable: Second base, shortstop, the outfield or a combination of all three?


The shortstop free-agent market already was thin heading into the offseason. Ironically enough, Semien was probably the most alluring option. With Simmons and Galvis now off the board, Didi Gregorius remains as the only true shortstop left to sign. The 30-year-old played in all 60 games for the Philadelphia Phillies last season, posting a .284/.339/.488 line with 10 homers and 40 RBI. Still, it's a safe bet Gregorious remains out of the A's price tag.

That leads to exploring the middle infield market, which won't lead to a true shortstop, but could leave to bargain one-year rentals. Greg Garcia possesses versatility that mirrors the likeness of Pinder. While Jonathan Villar and Jonathan Schoop have been predominantly second basemen in their careers, they could slide over to the left side of the infield. And the A's could ease the blow of losing Semien and La Stella by bringing back Eric Sogard. 

With the offseason winding down, it's looking like the A's will need to get crafty defensively. They have quick-fix options, but none that are truly ideal. With just a few weeks to go until the reported spring training start date, the A’s don’t have a legitimate long-term solution at shortstop -- and that’s a legitimate cause for concern. 

Contact Us