Late Sunday night, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that the Phillies and Mariners had agreed, in principal, to a trade that would send shortstop JP Crawford and Carlos Santana to Seattle in exchange for infielder Jean Segura. More updates today include that the Mariners may send another veteran to the Phillies, and that the Phillies are not including any of their most valuable pitching pieces including JoJo Romero, Adonis Medina, and Zach Eflin.
Acquiring Segura is a win on several fronts. I’ve been outspoken on my belief that the Phillies core is not as good as many believe it to be, and a move like this quickens the process by trading a member of that core who has struggled for a player that probably plays at his ceiling. In Crawford, the team is saying goodbye to the longtime top-prospect in the farm system and a player that hasn’t yet figured it out at the major league level. Injuries kept Crawford off the field for much of 2018, but his patented approach that helped him excel throughout much of the minors did not transfer to the big leagues. In 187 at-bats over two seasons, Crawford hit only .214 with limited power. While some may argue this was far too early to move on from a prospect of Crawford’s caliber, the Phillies are doing what they have to do to contend now.
Rather than wait for Crawford to “figure it all out”, the Phillies acquired a player who has likely reached Crawford’s full potential in Jean Segura. Segura, 28, has a lifetime slash line of .287/.327/.404, flashing a high average and decent pop for a shortstop. He does not walk a lot, but he rarely strikes out, putting him in the category of a pure contact guy. The Phillies have been missing a guy like this in their lineup for the past several years, and putting Segura at the top of the lineup can help with offensive woes that often found the team in 2018.
Beyond his offensive contributions, Segura offers defensive stability at shortstop. The Phillies had one of the worst defenses in baseball last season, and much of it rooted from inconsistencies in the middle infield. Segura will fix that, and barring injury, he will be the Phillies shortstop for the years to come. While much of the talk of this trade should be focused on Segura, Santana’s inclusion in it is very as well.
Carlos Santana was probably the most polarizing Phillie last year for several reasons. While many looked at him as a bad player due to his low average, some fans saw him for who he was: a professional hitter who could work pitchers, get on base, and add some pop to a lineup that needed it. Santana was fine at the plate this season, but his being on the roster pushed Rhys Hoskins to the outfield which proved to be extremely ineffective. Ridding of Santana in this deal solves this problem and will allow Hoskins to focus on hitting rather than figuring out left-field.
With this trade, Matt Klentak showed that the Phillies are clearly committing to winning now. They improved their lineup by trading a 23-year old with high potential to acquire a 28-year old who has hit his ceiling but adds higher average and pop to the lineup now. They rid of a professional hitter in Santana, but improved the defense for this coming season by putting Hoskins back at his natural position. And, most importantly, they did it without trading any top pitching prospects, who they can save for other big trades as they continue to transform this roster heading into the 2019 season.
Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports