Athletics reeling over losing Semien to Blue Jays: 'He was our leader'

The Blue Jays Central panel discuss the signing of Marcus Semien and what it means for the Blue Jays infield and how they can mix and match different lineups.

In an ideal world for the Toronto Blue Jays, new addition Marcus Semien rediscovers the form that earned him a third-place finish in American League MVP voting in 2019.

But even if Semien doesn't return to being an offensive juggernaut, the young Blue Jays will still reap the benefits of what the infielder brings to the clubhouse.

With the Blue Jays officially signing the shortstop to a one-year deal on Saturday, reality has set in for his former Oakland Athletics teammates, who are reeling from his departure.

“I mean, it just sucks,” Athletics pitcher Chris Bassitt said in a recent interview with Alex Coffey of The Athletic. “I mean, there is no dispute that he was the leader of our team. He was the leader for the entire community stuff that we did. Obviously, it’s a business, this is part of it, but I mean losing someone like Marcus is a big blow."

Semien, who spent the previous six seasons with Oakland and is from the Bay Area, was a huge reason for the Athletics' rise to becoming a playoff contender over the past three years. It wasn't just the 30-year-old's on-field production that contributed to that success, but also the gains he brought from a team-building perspective.

“He’s created a culture here,” Athletics outfielder/first baseman Mark Canha told Coffey. “We didn’t have that culture when Marcus and I first showed up in 2015. It was a lot different four or five years ago. Young players couldn’t really speak up. That’s just how it was. Veterans ran the clubhouse, and they ran it a certain way, and in my opinion, it’s changed for the better.

"We’re a lot more inclusive now and that just allows for better cohesion and Marcus helped build that."

In Toronto, Semien is joining a team loaded with talented youngsters all over the diamond. For all the natural ability on the roster, it's still key to develop good habits in workouts, batting practice and drills as the Blue Jays look to build a perennial World Series contender.

Semien has instilled that type of dedication in previous teammates, regardless of age or position, which would be of immense value to an up-and-coming squad like Toronto.

“I mean, he was our leader,” Athletics utility man Chad Pinder told Coffey. “Leader of the whole team, not just position players. Everybody looked up to him. The way he went about his business, how hard he worked. Nobody outworked that guy. In four and a half years, I had never seen him miss a warmup, a workout, cage session, groundballs.

"I learned so many things from him about work ethic and routine, and how to be a professional because, I mean, Marcus is the definition of professional."

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