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Mike’s Hardball Talk: Initial Analysis on the Diamondbacks trade of Jean Segura

On the surface, this looks like a very decent trade for the Diamondbacks. The team sold off high on Jean Segura coming off an MVP caliber season for two former top prospects with a ton of upside for the future.

Two days ago, I posted what type of market there could be for 2B Jean Segura. Segura was coming off his best season to date with a .319/.368/.499 season that also included being a Gold Glove finalist. Many Snakepitters were skeptical that he would be able to repeat that type of MVP Caliber season where Segura posted 5.7/5.0 bWAR/fWAR. Even though Segura was arguably the team’s most productive player in 2016, but ultimately was playing a position where there was a surplus of depth with Chris Owings capable of playing either middle infield spot. So the Diamondbacks and Mike Hazen elected to cash in and sell high. In addition, they added a older but MLB ready prospect in Mitch Haniger who I thought would be a terrific 4th OF for the team and a lefty reliever in Zac Curtis.

The main return is a former top prospect SS in Ketel Marte and a young RHP in Taijuan Walker. Walker had been linked to the Dbacks in trade rumors pretty much since the Upton vetoed being traded to Seattle in 2013. Walker is under control through the 2020 season. Walker’s results haven’t matched his hype as a top prospect, but the question isn’t talent. Walker profiles as a #2/3 starter at the MLB level, but needs to develop consistency like most of the other young starters on the team. With the Diamondbacks not necessarily in contention for the playoffs barring something crazy happening to the pitching staff, Walker should get opportunities to pitch without a lot of pressure. In the current rotation, I probably slide him 4th after Greinke, Ray, and Miller while in front of Archie Bradley.

Ketel Marte is a young SS, having just turned 23 in October, who was another top prospect in the Mariners system not too long ago. Marte had a pretty solid debut in 2015 where he hit .283/.351/.402 (112 OPS+) in 57 games while playing a decent shortstop for the Mariners. He took a step backwards in 2016 in his first full season as he struggled to hit, posting a .259/.287/.323 where his walk rate and ISO plummeted. Clearly the Mariners weren’t too happy with his drop off in play as they went and acquired Segura from the Diamondbacks. At 23 years old, there is still a lot of upside left. Marte is under control through 2021, the only question is where he’ll be on the infield whether it’s at SS or 2B. Defensive metrics have him at a total of 0 DRS at SS at about 1500 innings and -9.1 UZR/150, so there isn’t enough data to completely determine how good a defender he is.

Zac Curtis being included in the deal is not surprising considering he got passed up the organization ladder by Jared Miller. Miller moved to a relief role and was brilliant at the lower levels of the minors and even earned a look at AAA while the Reno Aces were clinging on for dear life for postseason hopes. He was rewarded with a stint in the Fall League where he went on an absolute tear. Miller allowed 0 runs in 18 13 IP and struck out roughly half of the hitters he faced while posting a 18/4 K/BB. In the Fall League, the competition isn’t prospects and MiLB journeymen, we’re talking about some of the game’s best prospects. Miller might not start the year in Arizona, but he’ll be a Dback sooner rather than later.

This move is by no means a suggestion that the team is selling off pieces and rebuilding. The return side of the trade is at the MLB level and signifies more of a re-tool and trading shorter term assets (Segura under control through 2018) for longer term assets (Walker 2020, Marte 2021). The immediate aftermath suggests that Chris Owings will likely be the team’s starting 2B and Marte the starting SS going into the season, unless Nick Ahmed starts 2017 like he did 2016. While Walker and Marte may produce less than Segura overall in terms of WAR in just 2017, overall I think this trade helps the team longer term even if there is a bit of pain in the short term.

I will be following up more on what the Diamondbacks acquired in this deal later on this week.