Posted on December 3, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Seattle Mariners are at it again. Within hours of finalizing their deal sending Robinson Cano to the Mets, they announced another major trade in the midst of a winter fire sale. This time, the Philadelphia Phillies are their trade partner. The Phillies have acquired infielder Jean Segura and relief pitchers Juan Nicasio and James Pazos. In exchange, the Mariners will receive young shortstop J.P. Crawford and first baseman Carlos Santana.
For Philadelphia, Segura is the main figure in the deal. The 28-year old has hit .300 or better in three consecutive years, indicating he’s in the prime of his career. He’s expected to become Philadelphia’s shortstop of both the present and future. After inking a long-term deal with the Mariners in June 2017, Segura is under contract through at least the 2022 season. Scott Kingery handled a bulk of the duties at shortstop in 2018. But he’s versatile enough to move elsewhere in order to make room for Segura.
Of course, this trade doesn’t necessarily take the Phillies out of the running in the Manny Machado sweepstakes. Philadelphia is still expected to pursue Machado aggressively. If the Phillies can sign him, either Machado or Segura would move to third base with Kingery being the top choice at second base.
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Meanwhile, the additions of Nicasio and Pazos should add depth to Philadelphia’s bullpen, which was problematic at times in 2018. Nicasio had a rough 2018 season in Seattle. But he could be poised to bounce back after posting a 2.61 ERA with three teams in 2018. Pazos will give the Phillies a much-needed lefty in their bullpen. He’s coming off a 2018 campaign in which he posted 2.88 ERA.
Parting ways with Santana was also a big part of the trade. The Phillies made a big splash by signing Santana last offseason. However, he underperformed in 2018, hitting just .226 with an OPS of .766. He also has $35 million left on his contract over the next two seasons. The Phillies were also eager to open up first base for Rhys Hoskins. The Phillies survived with Hoskins in the outfield last year. But they would prefer him to be at first base long-term. This deal accomplishes that while also opening up room in left field for one of the team’s young outfielders.
As for Seattle, they are expected to flip Santana later this offseason. The Mariners don’t have much room for a first baseman/DH in their lineup. Also, as a rebuilding team, they don’t have much desire to pay Santana’s contract. Of course, finding a team to take Santana may be easier said than done.
On the other hand, Crawford is undoubtedly a huge addition for a rebuilding club. Not long ago, Crawford was one of the top prospects in all of baseball. He’s hit just .214 over his first 187 big league at-bats and struggled after breaking his hand last June. But as a 23-year old shortstop with tons of upside, he’s a major acquisition for the Mariners. With few other options at shortstop, Crawford projects as Seattle’s opening day shortstop in 2019 and for a long time to come.
Ultimately, this trade should work out for both teams. With Segura coming aboard, the win-now Phillies have little need for Crawford. They also improved their bullpen and will be delighted to get rid of Santana and move Hoskins to first base. The Mariners, of course, need to find a taker for Santana to make this trade work. However, they cut plenty of payroll with this trade and acquired a potential cornerstone shortstop in Crawford. If he becomes the player he was projected to be, the Mariners will be pleased with this trade in the long run.