Jean Segura trade grades: Phillies get a high mark while Mariners leave a lot to be desired
Seattle unloaded an All-Star shortstop for a fading prospect and an expensive first baseman
Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto has wasted no time with his rebuild. , the Mariners dealt Jean Segura to the Phillies in a . This is already the fifth trade Dipoto has made this offseason, along with Cano, Diaz, James Paxton, Mike Zunino, Guillermo Heredia, and Alex Colome being sent elsewhere.
In return for Segura the Mariners will receive former top prospect J.P. Crawford and veteran first baseman Carlos Santana. Santana's inclusion helps offset some of Segura's salary -- Segura is owed $60.4 million from 2019-22 while Santana is owed $35 million from 2019-20 -- and it is very likely he will be flipped to another team before the start of spring training. Crawford is the centerpiece.
This past season the Phillies went 80-82 thanks to a second half collapse that saw them drop 38 of their final 60 games. Despite that, they have a strong talent core in place thanks to Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins, and they have gobs of money to spend this winter. Their chances of signing Manny Machado or Bryce Harper are as good as any team's. Time to grade the Segura trade.
Philadelphia Phillies trade grade: A-
To me, this trade is pretty close to a slam dunk for the Phillies. They get an immediate and enormous upgrade at shortstop, additional depth for the bullpen, and a solution to their first base problem. Problem is probably a bit too harsh, but clearly Santana and Hoskins on the same roster in the non-DH league was a poor fit. Something had to give.
In Segura the Phillies get a high-contact hitter who offers double-digit home run power and is a safe bet for 20-plus stolen bases. He also plays strong defense and is owed a reasonable $14.85 million per season from 2019-22, his age 29-32 seasons. The Phillies are getting what should be several peak years from Segura.
Look at it this way: Crawford's best case scenario is basically what Segura is today. An above-average two-way shortstop. The Phillies traded five years of a potential Segura for four years of the real Segura. They moved the timetable up, basically. Crawford is awfully talented but now Philadelphia doesn't have to wait for him to settle in as a big leaguer.
Furthermore, the Phillies are now free to move Hoskins back to first base, his natural position. This past season he played left field in deference to Santana and was a disaster defensively. A total of 2,227 players played at least one play in the field in 2018. Here's the bottom of the defensive runs saved leaderboard:
2,223. Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox: -19 runs
2,224. Nicholas Castellanos, Tigers: -19 runs
2,225. Rhys Hoskins, Phillies: -24 runs
2,226. Miguel Andujar, Yankees: -25 runs
2,227. Charlie Blackmon, Rockies: -28 runs
Segura represents a huge offensive upgrade over Crawford while providing a minimal hit defensively (Crawford can really pick it at shortstop), plus moving Hoskins to first will equal several more wins simply by getting him out of left field. The Phillies do have to replace Santana's offensive production, though, to be fair, replacing a 105 OPS+ corner bat shouldn't be too difficult.
Financially, getting Nicasio and Pazos in the trade while sending back Santana means the Phillies are taking on $34.65 million in new salary obligation, with most of it going to Segura in 2021 and 2022. Taking on less money is pretty much the only way this trade could make the jump from an A- to an A for me.
Seattle Mariners trade grade: D
- J.P. Crawford
- Carlos Santana
I like Crawford. I do. He is still only 23 years old and last year at this time he was a consensus top 40 prospect in baseball. Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America ranked him as the game's 14th and 16th best prospect prior to the 2018 season, respectively, while MLB.com had him ranked 37th. That's really good! Baseball America's scouting report said Crawford has "the talent to be a centerpiece player."
That was last year, however. Crawford's stock took a hit this past season because he struggled with the Phillies (90 OPS+) and dealt with elbow and hand injuries -- the performance and injuries could of course be related -- and that comes after a disappointing .243/.351/.405 showing in Triple-A in 2017. Two years ago Crawford was a truly elite prospect. Top 10 in baseball. The bloom has since come off the rose a bit.
Now, that said, I love the idea of buying low on Crawford. He's still only 23 and the natural ability is there. I just don't love getting him as the centerpiece in a trade for a player as productive and affordable as Segura. For all intents and purposes, the Mariners are rolling the dice on Crawford as a change of scenery candidate. Not a bad idea at all. But quick risky when he's the headliner in a trade for Segura.
As for Santana, perhaps it's best we grade his portion of this trade "incomplete." In all likelihood the Mariners will flip him to another team. They might have to eat some money to trade him, but Santana switch-hits, he has power (averaged 24 homers per year from 2011-18), he gets on base (career .363 on-base percentage), and he has a strong track record. First base needy teams like the Rockies and Yankees could be potential landing spots.
I expect the Mariners to get something pretty good in return for Santana. Not a tippy top prospect, but a good young player or two to further the rebuild. For them, this trade is all about buying low on Crawford and whatever they fetch in the seemingly inevitable Santana trade. Otherwise, when you factor in Nicasio and Pazos, it sure looks like the primary motivation for Dipoto & Co. was unloading salary. They didn't get a sure thing in return.
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