The Mariners have officially traded 11 All-Star appearances between three players in the span of about two hours.
The latest player on the move is two-time All-Star shortstop Jean Segura. The Mariners dealt the 28-year-old to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for 32-year-old first baseman Carlos Santana and 23-year-old shortstop J.P. Crawford.
As part of the deal, the Mariners also included right-handed reliever Juan NIcasio and left-hander James Pazos.
Segura hit .302/.345/.421 in his two years with the Mariners with 21 home runs. He was almost the MVP of the All-Star Game this year.
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When fellow Dominican Robinson Cano was suspended 80 games for violating MLB’s joint drug and prevention program, it was Segura who picked up much of the slack for the Mariners as they rocketed to 24 games above .500 in June.
Segura slumped in the second half of the season along with much of the rest of the Mariners’ offense. He hit .323/.354/.458 the first 90 games and hit .270/.319/.340 after the All-Star break with just eight extra-base hits.
But why trade Segura when he’s still 28 (one year older than Haniger), already established himself in the big leagues with back-to-back .300 seasons, and he’s still signed on a fair contract through 2022, with an option for 2023?
“Having a .300 hitter is a notable thing. It’s not common in today’s game,” Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said. “Jean is a great player and we picked him up and he had two excellent years for us.
“As we take a step back in 2019 geared toward taking a step toward cresting by 2021, by 2021 now Jean is 31 and going to be 32 going into the final two years of his contract. At that point we have to start asking ourselves questions about what position he’s going to be playing and what we need around him. We would have ahd to been the player we were building around in order to make sense of that and that’s not the direction we opted to go.”
Segura also had noted chemistry issues with teammates and manager Scott Servais. He and Dee Gordon got into a clubhouse scuffle on Sept. 4. Servais benched him in the third-to-last game of the season for not hustling enough when he scored from second base on a single. And Servais was noticeably terse when Segura missed a 7-1 Mariners win over the Athletics in late August.
“Jean pulled himself out today,” Servais said a time the time. “He got a bruise on his shin.”
This is the fourth time Segura has been traded. First from the Angels to the Brewers in 2012, then to the Diamondbacks before the 2016 season before the Mariners acquired Segura and fellow All-Star outfielder Mitch Haniger for Taijuan Walker and Ketel Marte.
Now he’s headed to Philadelphia.
The Mariners made Nicasio their biggest offseason free-agent signing last year, while Pazos was acquired in a trade from the Yankees just before the 2017 season.
And that’s just after the Mariners announced they had traded All-Star closer Edwin Diaz to the New York Mets along with Cano, an eight-time All-Star, as part of a seven-player deal.
Segura had to waive his no-trade clause for the deal to go through, just like Cano did to head to the Mets.
With the dark direction the Mariners are headed in the short term as they conduct their fire sale and begin stocking on prospects, it’s hard to blame anyone for waiving their no-trade clause.
The highlight of the Mariners return in their trade with the Phillies, though, is Crawford. Baseball America has ranked him as the Phillies No. 1 prospect every year since 2013, even though he’s struggled in his short big-league tenure. Crawford batted .214 over 49 games this past season (he did have a .319 on-base percentage).
Crawford will be 24 in January and was the Phillies first-round pick in 2013. He’s been praised for his defensive abilities and over his six seasons in the minors he has a .366 on-base percentage.
So why Santana, too?
That’s where the money comes in. Santana is owed about $41 million over the next two years, according to Cots Contracts, so he was the Phillies throw-in to offset Segura’s $60 million owed through 2022 (with a club option for 2023).
But did the Mariners get enough? That’s was a question pondered around the industry Monday as most pegged the Phillies as the winner of the deal.
“If the market were higher (for Segura) we would have made a higher-level trade,” Dipoto said.
“J.P. Crawford spent the past four years regarded as one of the best 20 prospects in baseball. ... While he didn’t hit for high average, he controls the strike zone. We feel like J.P. Crawford, with a fresh start in Seattle working with Perry Hill (the Mariners new infield coach) and given the opportunity to do the things he does, this is an exciting young player who we are thrilled to have.”
Nicasio is owed $9.3 million in the final year of his deal in 2019, while Pazos is making the league minimum. So the Mariners are shedding about $28 million in payroll.
The Mariners quickly gave Segura that contract extension last year with general manager Jerry Dipoto saying they believed Segura was part of their future core at the top of their lineup.
“Jean has all the tools to be a star-level player,” Dipoto said at the time. “He’s been that the past year and a half (with the Diamondbacks) and we’re thrilled to make him part of our family for the next five, and possibly six, years.”
Two years later, Segura is headed to Philly.