Remember, the 2018 major league baseball season was still happening less than a month ago.
That should say just how active the Seattle Mariners have been in this offseason’s trade market. Jerry Dipoto has already been involved in the two most marquee trades so far in sending catcher Mike Zunino to the Tampa Bay Rays and left-hander James Paxton to the Yankees.
And the next Mariner at the top of Dipoto’s roster reimagining? It’s most likely shortstop Jean Segura.
Why? You’d think a 28-year-old, two-time All-Star shortstop who has hit over .300 each of the past three years is reason enough to keep him through what we’ll call the Mariners’ soft rebuild. Dipoto outlined a step back so the Mariners are competing for a World Series by the 2021 season, and Segura is signed through 2022 with a club option for 2023.
And Segura’s 13.0 wins above replacement over the past three seasons (according to Baseball Reference) is among the best of any middle infielder in baseball. The only players ahead of him are Jose Altuve (21.2), Francisco Lindor (19.3), Andrelton Simmons (17.4), Carlos Correa (14.0) and teammate Robinson Cano (13.9). That’s good company.
Segura also took a step forward defensively this past season. He ranked fifth among American League shortstops in SABR’s defensive index rating, which is used to help select Gold Glove winners.
But there’s probably a reason Segura has been traded three times already — first by the Angels, then the Brewers and Diamondbacks.
Now it might be time for the Mariners and Segura to part ways. There was the clubhouse scuffle between Segura and Dee Gordon, and there seems to be a rift between Segura and manager Scott Servais, too. A couple of examples: Servais pulled Segura in the third-to-last game of the season for not hustling enough when the shortstop scored from second base on a single, and Servais was noticeably terse on Aug. 31 because Segura missed his second consecutive game with a bone bruise in his left leg.
“Jean pulled himself out today,” Servais said after a 7-1 win over the Athletics. “He got a bruise on his shin.”
Still, Segura should have plenty of value – if not on the Mariners roster, then at least in terms of prospects Dipoto has been trying to stockpile this offseason.
But as we look at three teams who could be talking to the Mariners about a Segura trade, keep in mind that he would have to first approve any deal, per the full no-trade clause in his contract extension the Mariners signed him to. And he’s so close with Cano that maybe any deal would be a no-go. That’s the wild card in any Segura deal.
Segura has already been linked as part of a discussed trade with the Padres, one that would have sent Segura and right-hander Mike Leake (and their combined $32 million they’d make in 2019 alone) to San Diego for 27-year-old outfielder/corner infielder Wil Myers.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported the deal wasn’t close to being finalized. But it’s hard to believe the Mariners would execute that trade without getting more in return than Myers, who batted .253/.318/.446 with 11 home runs in 83 games this past season and hasn’t come close to his rookie season for the Rays in 2013 when he hit .293.
Apparently the Mariners and Yankees were talking about a deal that would have included both Paxton and Segura, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported. But the Yankees turned the focus to solely discussing a package around Paxton, which netted the Mariners top-prospect Justus Sheffield, as well as two other prospects.
And if the Yankees don’t figure out their shortstop situation — last year’s regular, Didi Gregorius, is out until possibly August with Tommy John surgery — expect them to rekindle talks with the Mariners at MLB’s winter meetings in two weeks.
Who aren’t the Phillies going after this offseason?
Much of the national attention over the past week has been on whether they could not only sign Bryce Harper this offseason, but also get Mike Trout next year. And if that means they don’t get Manny Machado, then Segura might be the next-best alternative.
Actually, expect the Mariners to be pushing Segura as the top alternative to any team that strikes out on the Machado sweepstakes.
Morosi reported that the Phillies are one of several teams who have interest in Segura and he mentioned that in the same breath as the Phillies showing interest in closer Edwin Diaz, as well.
It would take a massive return, at least per what Dipoto has said, for the Mariners to part with Diaz. But maybe for Segura the Mariners would bring back once-touted shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford, and maybe some of the Phillies bigger prospects such as pitchers Adonis Medina or JoJo Romero, or outfielders Adam Haseley or Jhaylin Ortiz.
But there are plenty of other teams who might be interested in Segura, especially those who would want to convert him to second base. So expect plenty of Segura rumors over the next few weeks.