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How Matt Klentak “won” the Jean Segura trade

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The Phillies’ general manager had a good day on Monday.

Arizona Diamondbacks v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Phillies general manager Matt Klentak’s most important off-season is off to a promising start.

While it’s very hard to say anyone can “win” a trade until a reasonable amount of time has passed, at first blush, it’s hard to make the argument that Klentak didn’t “win” the Jean Segura deal with the Mariners. By trading J.P. Crawford and Carlos Santana for Segura and two relievers, Juan Nicasio and James Pazos, the Phils made themselves better at a key position, cleared out some of the infield brush left over from last year, and remained flexible enough to still do anything they want this off-season.

And that’s not just my biased opinion. Most in baseball feel the same way.

Meanwhile, Jerry Dipoto is trying to defend the move to angry Seattle fans.

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported the Phillies almost made a deal for Segura and closer Edwin Diaz this week before Diaz and Robinson Cano were dealt to the New York Mets.

The Phillies pursued a Segura/Díaz package, and, according to sources, the discussions included their top prospect, right-hander Sixto Sánchez, who did not pitch after June 3 last season due to right elbow inflammation.

But the Phils pulled back, deciding they would not empty their farm system for four years of a reliever, even one as good as Díaz, sources said. Their preference, unlike that of the Mets, is to acquire a top reliever through free agency, with left-handers Zach Britton and Andrew Miller among their targets.

While I am not as averse to trading Sanchez as some, it has to be for the right player or the right deal, and Klentak did the correct thing by not including him in a deal for a relief pitcher. Heck, if Sanchez doesn’t work out, he could be Diaz in a year or two for the Phils.

By holding onto Sanchez and every other prospect the team has, they leave themselves well stocked to make a move for a hitter or starting pitcher that could really help the team.

They could go after one of the Cleveland starters, Zack Greinke, Madison Bumgarner or some other pitcher. They have the pieces to re-engage Arizona in a Paul Goldschmidt deal, or possibly a trade for David Peralta or some other outfielder whose name comes down the pike at the Winter Meetings next week.

Klentak also didn’t have to eat any dead salary in this deal. By getting the Mariners to assume all of the $40 million left on Santana’s contract, they only have to pay the remaining $60 million of Segura’s deal (over four years), the $9 million on Nicasio’s deal, and the contract for Pazos, who has yet to reach arbitration.

That leaves them plenty of room to pursue free agent starter Patrick Corbin, who is expected to see a six-year deal around $125 million, the same as what Yu Darvish was paid last winter. NBC Sports’ Jim Salisbury says the Phillies still want Manny Machado, perhaps more than Bryce Harper, and that the Segura deal doesn’t minimize their interest in any way.

According to sources, the Phillies still hope to sign free agent Manny Machado and play him at third base. Should the Phils fail to sign Machado, they could look to someone like Mike Moustakas on a short-term deal at third before making a run at Nolan Arenado in July or next winter when he becomes a free agent. Maikel Franco is still with the club and there’s always the chance he could stay at third base, but the team has looked to trade him in the past and this seems like the time to make it happen. The Padres are a good fit.

Harper, by the way, is being wooed by a number of teams, including Magic Johnson from the Dodgers and a Philadelphia Phillie Wall of Famer who is doing dirty work for the Chicago White Sox!

Yes, I know Jim serves an advisory role for Chicago. Nevertheless... JIM??? WHAT ARE YOU DOING???

Despite all this, Klentak has left the Phils plenty of payroll space to sign whoever they want.

The trade also clarified the infield situation. With Santana gone, Rhys Hoskins goes back to first base, where he belongs. It also opens a spot in the outfield, so rest assured, the Phillies are going to sign an outfielder of some kind this off-season. As of now Scott Kingery and Cesar Hernandez are slated to play second, with Segura at third and either Kingery or Maikel Franco at third. But as Salisbury mentioned, the Phils could pursue help at third base and deal Franco, or sign Machado to play third.

Regardless, Gabe Kapler doesn’t have to find playing time to develop J.P. Crawford and doesn’t have to keep Hoskins in left field. That’s important.

And hey, give Klentak credit with regards to Santana. Whether you regard the signing as a “mistake” or not, it’s good to see this regime isn’t afraid to make a change in order to improve the team, even if that change doesn’t paint the GM in a great light. Santana proved not to be a good fit and was in the way, and Klentak found a taker for him without having to assume any of his salary.

At the end of the day, Klentak did four things: He made the team better at shortstop and first base, he cleared out some overgrowth on the infield, he didn’t trade any prospects in order to make that happen, and he didn’t take on any dead money.

That’s a good days’ work ahead of the most important Winter Meetings this franchise has seen in more than a decade.