As a front office tries to create an offseason plan to help improve a franchise, there can come a time when the budget gets in the way. They might want to sign X player to fill Y hole, but in order do so, they have to get rid of Z amount of money to free up the necessary space. That move might be nontendering players, it might outright releasing them (that still means you have to pay ‘em), but it usually means they have to trade them. Getting someone else to pay that player while also getting something in return feels like the best move for all involved.
In multiple pieces around the interwebs, the Phillies are in this position as well, needing to offload some money to help plug other holes. Some may have suggested that trading Aaron Nola is the move to execute, but still others see Jean Segura as the way to go. Here’s the question:
Why does trading Jean Segura have to happen? I can think of several reasons.
People really, really want to give Bryson Stott an Opening Day job
The excitement building over Stott is palpable. There’s good reason to. After finishing up a solid minor league season (.299/.390/.486 over three levels), he followed that up with an equally as impressive Arizona Fall League performance (.318/.445/.489 in 119 PA). There’s reason to get excited about a hitting prospect performing so well in a system that hasn’t had many success stories either in the batter’s box or on the mound lately. He’s not young, so he’s already pretty close to the majors. When prospects get their share of hype, people want to see him in the majors as soon as possible, hoping the team can strike prospect gold and get a young talent to build around.
Not to be a negative Nelly, but we have to also remember: Stott didn’t play in 2020 thanks to the pandemic, so he’s still getting minor league reps that will help his development. His being “blocked” by Segura and Didi Gregorius isn’t a bad thing since he can continue that development under the less intense lights of Lehigh Valley. The team has already acknowledged that he’s in the plans to be a candidate for the Opening Day job at shortstop, but second base feels like a solid fallback position. Especially if Segura can be used as a trade piece to upgrade somewhere else, a common theme among fans. That leads to the second point...
He’s the best combination of tradable production, lowest cost and has a suitable replacement
By this point in the baseball timeline, front offices aren’t being run by dummies. Most, if not all (sorry, you always have to account for the Rockies), are staffed with many, many smart people that aren’t going to take on the dreck of a team simply because the back of their baseball card looks good. There is a calculus that goes into player acquisition: is he good? Is he cheap? Does he have team control? Does he have a lot of years left at a high rate of production? Does he play a difficult position? If one were to look at the Phillies’ roster right now, Segura would be the one that checks off most of the boxes.
He’s only had one season out of the last six where his wRC+ has been below 100 (91 in 2019), he’s reasonably priced in 2022 ($14.85 million), he’s still available to the team in 2023 with a $17 million team option, he’ll play all of 2022 at age 32 and he’s one of the better defenders at the keystone in the National League. Not too many people on the Phillies’ current roster are going to fit most any team like Segura would.
So, if we’re looking around the Phillies roster to see a) who has the most trade value and b) who could realistically be traded, Segura would be the one. It doesn’t necessarily mean that he will be traded though.
But who would replace him?
A gentle reminder, dear reader, that Jean Segura was maybe the team’s most consistent hitter after Bryce Harper last year, that he has been better than league average for his three years here, and that if he were to be traded, someone would have to step into his shoes and fill the hole in the lineup. Since he isn’t doing it with the kind of flash that other players do, it’s sometimes hard to remember that Segura is actually good at baseball.
Wishcasting Stott into the second base role is not the worst idea in the world, but there also has to be taken into consideration the possibility that Stott struggles. Rookies are more likely to struggle than not when breaking into the majors, so if a team were to go with Stott after a Segura deal, they had better have some depth to cover themselves just in case. Taking a scan of the upper minors, that depth would have to be someone like Luke Williams or Nick Maton, two young players that the current manager had no faith in playing last season. What would change his mind now?
And, let’s not forget this little nugget of news as well.
Yep! He has a full no trade clause, so if he wants to go, he’ll have to waive it. https://t.co/GyFFTq1vsy— Destiny Lugardo (@destiny_lugardo) November 23, 2021
Segura has a no-trade clause in his contract, meaning he isn’t going anywhere unless he waives it himself. And what’s the best way to get Segura to waive that NTC?
And the price of waiving it might be something like turning his team option into a player option.— Matt Winkelman (@Matt_Winkelman) November 23, 2021
So, in all likelihood, someone is going to have to pay Segura some money. It could come in the form, as Matt Winkelman suggested, of the acquiring team grabbing Segura’s option and converting it, or it could come in the form of a team playing him a little extra something, meaning the Phillies would likely have to cover that cost.
While it does make some sense to trade Segura, particularly if the team could get someone to fill a bigger, more important hole on the roster, the production cost of trading him doesn’t make any sense. He’s still a good player, making not a huge amount of money, that is still productive on a team that shouldn’t be moving those kinds of players off the roster. it might seem like an easy fix to a problem, it’s not the correct one.