by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
In what can only be described as a stunning Thanksgiving eve deal, the Mariners and Diamondbacks struck an intriguing bit of a “blockbuster”:
The Mariners Acquire – SS Jean Segura, OF Mitch Haniger & LHP Zac Curtis
The Diamondbacks Acquire – RHP Taijuan Walker & SS Ketel Marte
It’s obvious who the key pieces are, but what does this deal mean for their upside? Today we are going to look at the two “top” names, and later on this weekend we will look at the upside and potential of the other three:
Segura is the type of catalyst that the Mariners needed at the top of their lineup. He is coming off a career year, hitting .319 with 20 HR, 64 RBI, 102 R and 33 SB. Speed has never been a question, so the wonder is if he can maintain his power and batting average (with Nelson Cruz & Robinson Cano behind him, runs scored shouldn’t be an issue).
Even last season Segura posted a 53.1% groundball rate, the type of number we like seeing from a speed first, top of the order bat. However it does limit his power potential, and it’s even more questionable as 14 of his HR came in the second half courtesy of a 19.2% HR/FB (8.6% for his career). A regression was a near lock, regardless of where he played, with 9-14 HR being more reasonable expectation. That’s not a bad number, but we need to know what we’re buying.
As for the average, even with his speed a 19.1% line drive rate shouldn’t lead to a .353 BABIP. A strong contact rate (14.6% strikeout rate) helps, though it’s not like he’s a player who commands the strike zone and draws a lot of walks.. While he should still push .290-.300, the drop is notable. Segura is going to remain a Top 10-12 shortstop, but a regression was coming regardless of where he played.
Walker was once considered one of the elite prospects in the game, but he’s never lived up to the hype with a career 4.18 ERA. Last season he posted a 4.22 ERA, despite a 1.24 WHIP, 7.97 K/9 and 2.48 BB/9. His control has always proven solid (2.50 BB/9) and there’s upside in the strikeout rate, especially given the move to the NL:
There’s hope that he can push that up a little bit, so what’s the issue? Home runs, as last season he posted a 1.81 HR/9 and owns a career 1.36 mark (courtesy of a 41.5% groundball rate). You’d think the change of scenery would be a significant negative, but look at the comparison from last year:
In other words the move isn’t necessarily going to hurt him, but it also isn’t going to help. Unless he can figure out a way to significantly cut down that number, his overall upside is going to be capped. The move to the NL, and easier lineups, is going to help and he was always going to be an intriguing option to fill out your staff. However, don’t draft him expecting him to carry your staff. Maybe he gets there, but the chances are he doesn’t.
Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, ESPN
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