Why Did the Diamondbacks Trade for Jean Segura?
There was a time, for a brief moment there, when Jean Segura looked like he was going to be a star player in Major League Baseball.
You'll remember he was the main prospect sent from the Angels to the Milwaukee Brewers in the Zack Greinke trade just before the non-waiver deadline in 2012. He was seen as a young shortstop with a ton of potential and, in 2013, he seemed to reach that potential.
That season, Segura had an fWAR of 3.5, posted a weighted on base average (wOBA) of .329, a weighted runs created (wRC+) of 105, hit 12 homers and stole 44 bases for Milwaukee. It appeared as though the Brewers got some good value back for Greinke.
But it didn't last, and Segura's last two seasons have been rather dismal.
It's not that Segura has been bad the last two years, it's that he's been so bad.
And yet, the Arizona Diamondbacks decided this was a player they felt could improve their infield, trading for him in a five-player swap with the Brewers. Arizona also gets back pitcher Tyler Wagner from Milwaukee and sends starting pitcher Chase Anderson, second baseman Aaron Hill, and prospect Isan Diaz to the Brew Crew.
Segura joins last year's middle infield duo of shortstop Nick Ahmed, a plus-defender with a weak bat, and second baseman Chris Owings. It's not clear how the soon-to-be 26-year-old Segura will be featured in this mix, but Arizona is clearly hoping he can, at worst, provide some depth, and, at best, rediscover the production he showed during his rookie season.
Here's how all three players compare, looking at last year's stats.
Needless to say, don't expect any Silver Sluggers in any of these guys' futures anytime soon.
Segura seems to be very much like what the Diamondbacks already have on hand. None of these three players gets on base with any regularity (Segura's 2.2% walk rate was the lowest among all qualified Major League players last season), and all three are far below average in terms of run production (wRC+ of 100 being league average). In fact, Owings' wRC+ of 52 and Segura's 62 were the two worst marks among qualified Major Leaguers last year.
That's an offensive dead zone.
However, Ahmed brings a lot to the table with his defense, worth 2.8 Wins Above Replacement last season according to Baseball Reference's dWAR statistic. Segura and Owings were both above replacement level, but just barely.
Perhaps the thinking is the Brewers would play Segura at second base in place of Owings, hoping that Segura can recapture his production from 2013, and knowing that Owings has reached his ceiling. But it's a gamble, especially when you consider Arizona could have made a more aggressive play for Howie Kendrick to play second. He re-signed with the Dodgers last week.
It's also worth noting that, even in Segura's breakout 2013 campaign, it was largely fueled by a hot first half that saw a higher-than-normal batting average on balls in play (BABIP).
In short, Segura has had one good half-season in his rookie year and two-and-a-half below average seasons since then.
I've been high on Arizona this offseason. This is a team that is ready to make the playoffs after the additions of Greinke and Shelby Miller, and perennial MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt and lead-off hitter extraordinaire A.J. Pollock on the roster.
But it's hard to figure out exactly what the D-Backs think they're getting with this one.