Had you been told six months ago that the Phillies would be able to essentially turn J.P. Crawford into Jean Segura, would you have believed it?
This is a great trade for the Phillies. They took advantage of the desperation and desire on Seattle’s part to strip things down, trading away any and all players of value. If the Mariners weren’t clearly in sell-mode, they’re not trading away a very good shortstop on a fair contract.
Segura’s deal is more than fair. He makes $15 million a year to hit .300 with speed, some pop and solid defense at the most important defensive position other than catcher. If he were a free agent, Segura would likely find this exact four-year, $60 million deal, if not a more expensive one.
Phillies fans are going to love him. Don’t take the fact that he’s been traded three times in less than three years as a sign of anything other than his value.
First part of Segura’s career
It’s not as if Segura wore out his welcome in these places. His career started with the Angels, who traded him to the Brewers to get Zack Greinke. Segura was excellent that first year in Milwaukee, making the 2013 All-Star team by hitting .325 with 27 steals in the first half.
The league then caught up to Segura’s approach at the plate. You can’t really pitch him outside because he excels at hitting the ball where it’s pitched. Throw him an outside fastball and he’ll deposit it over the second baseman’s head. Throw him an outside breaking ball and he’s great at fouling it off to extend the at-bat or staying back to dunk it into left field.
During that second half of 2013 into the next two seasons, pitchers attacked Segura on the inside corner, trying to jam him and take away that opposite-field excellence.
After the January 2016 trade from Milwaukee to Seattle, Segura’s career took off. These last three seasons, from ages 26-28, have been his best. He is one of only four players in the majors to hit .300 three years in a row, along with Mike Trout, Jose Altuve and Freddie Freeman.
These last three seasons, Segura has 301 hits up the middle, most in all of baseball by a right-handed hitter. His 100 hits to the opposite field over that span are sixth-most in baseball.
The running game
Last season was Segura’s worst as a base stealer. He went 20 for 31, running well early in the season but getting caught six times in nine chances in June and July. Still, there is little doubt that Segura is a better base stealer than Cesar Hernandez and will add a dynamic the top of the Phillies’ lineup lacked. Segura has averaged 31 steals per 162 games in his career to Hernandez’s 18.
Acquiring Segura means playing him at shortstop, which means Scott Kingery plays second base, right? Well, not necessarily.
For the third offseason in a row, the Phillies will not give Hernandez away, nor should they. The problem is that now, they have less leverage than ever in a Hernandez trade. Aside from the second base trade market not being robust, every team knows the Phillies would ideally look to move Hernandez, and Hernandez is coming off by far his worst full season. He hit 41 points lower in 2018 than he did in 2016 or 2017.
If Hernandez stays, Kingery will become the super-utility man most thought he’d be in 2018.
As far as the batting order, Segura figures to replace Hernandez at the top, pushing Cesar down to the 8- or 9-hole. Hernandez, if he can get back to his .360 OBP ways, is the ideal No. 9 hitter, a guy with speed who can get on base ahead of his team’s best hitters.
Let’s say the Phillies also end up with Manny Machado this offseason. The lineup could look like this:
1. Jean Segura, SS
2. Manny Machado, 3B
3. Odubel Herrera, RF
4. Rhys Hoskins, 1B
5. Nick Williams, LF
6. Roman Quinn, CF
7. Jorge Alfaro, C
9. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
Or it could look like this:
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Manny Machado, 3B
3. Jean Segura, SS
4. Rhys Hoskins, 1B
5. Odubel Herrera, RF
6. Nick Williams, LF
7. Roman Quinn, CF
8. Jorge Alfaro, C
I still do expect the Phillies to address the outfield in some way this offseason. It would be surprising if they entered 2019 with that exact outfield arrangement above. All three of their young outfielders have trade value, and even if the Phils don’t end up with Bryce Harper, there are useful veteran outfielders in free agency like Michael Brantley and Nick Markakis, two guys who — at least in 2019 and 2020 — would improve this lineup.
Laying out the projected lineup highlights how important it was for the Phillies to add a player like Segura. The gap between 80 wins and 90 wins was not Harper or Machado alone. The Phillies knew they needed to make other moves to supplement the big one we all anticipate. If they can get one of Harper or Machado, along with Segura, an elite reliever like Zach Britton, a mid-rotation starter and one more outfielder, this can be one of the NL’s best teams in 2019.
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