j.p. crawford

Phillies reportedly poised to land Jean Segura in trade with Mariners

Phillies reportedly poised to land Jean Segura in trade with Mariners

The Phillies and Mariners have agreed in principle to a trade that would bring Jean Segura to Philadelphia, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale

Shortstop J.P. Crawford is reportedly involved in the deal, but there will surely be more pieces moving. 

Segura, who turns 29 in March, would be the initial prize in what’s expected to be a busy offseason for the Phillies. He’ll play shortstop and hit at the top of the order, providing the Phils’ lineup skills it lacked. Segura is an offensive catalyst, a consistent .300 hitter with speed who extends at-bats and uses center and right field as much any right-handed hitter in the game. 

In 2016, Segura hit .319 with 20 home runs and 41 doubles with the Diamondbacks, before being traded to Seattle, where he hit .302 the last two years with less pop. Citizens Bank Park plays much smaller than does Safeco Field, which could get Segura back closer to those 2016 career-highs. 

Segura is owed $14.25 million in each of the 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 seasons. There is a $17 club option for 2023. Altogether, it’s $58 million guaranteed over the next four seasons, a more than fair price for a player of Segura’s caliber. 

Our Jim Salisbury first reported Saturday the Phillies’ interest in Segura, noting that they would still pursue Manny Machado whether or not they added Segura (see story).

More to come Monday morning ...

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Phillies trade rumors: Phillies aim for Manny Machado and Jean Segura in the same infield

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USA Today Images

Phillies trade rumors: Phillies aim for Manny Machado and Jean Segura in the same infield

The Phillies could be headed for a complete overhaul of the left side of their infield.

The team is interested in acquiring shortstop Jean Segura from the Seattle Mariners, according to a baseball source.

So how does that impact the Phillies' desire to sign free agent Manny Machado?

It doesn't.

According to a source, the Phillies remain committed to pursuing Machado with the hope of playing him at third base should they be able to land Segura. Machado has played both third base and shortstop in his career. Though he enjoys playing shortstop and has said he'd like to stay there, he is a much better third baseman, elite by some standards.

Can the Phillies sell Machado on this idea? Time will tell. The winter meetings begin next weekend in Las Vegas and industry activity is expected to ramp up as they approach. Patrick Corbin, one of the top pitchers on the free-agent market, could make a decision on where he'll sign in the coming days. The Phillies, along with the New York Yankees and Washington Nationals, are very much in the hunt for his services. The Phils hosted Corbin at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday.

Already in recent days, there has been an uptick in action, especially in the National League East. The Atlanta Braves signed third baseman Josh Donaldson and the New York Mets are on the verge of acquiring all-star second baseman Robinson Cano and dazzling young closer Edwin Diaz from the rebuilding Mariners.

The Phillies are keenly aware of the Mariners' current tack. They had trade discussions with the Mariners about pitcher James Paxton before he was dealt to the Yankees earlier in the offseason and, according to sources who have confirmed multiple reports, engaged the Mariners about the possibility of acquiring Segura and Diaz in a package deal before Seattle turned its focus to sending Cano and Diaz to the Mets.

The Phillies would still like to acquire Segura, possibly in a package that would include Carlos Santana as well as the young talent that Seattle seeks.

Segura, who turns 29 in March, is signed through 2022 and owed $60 million. He is an excellent hitter — he hit .308 with an .803 OPS over the last three seasons — and an above-average defender. Segura has a no-trade clause but would likely waive it to escape a rebuild.

Even if the Phillies don't land Segura, they would still pursue Machado with the possibility of playing him at shortstop before an eventual move to third base.

Machado is not the only high-profile free agent that the Phils are pursuing. They also maintain interest in outfielder Bryce Harper and their pursuit of the left-hander Corbin is clear. Adding a top lefty to the bullpen is another offseason goal and free agents Zach Britton and Andrew Miller remain targets.

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Phillies cannot improve without making these defensive fixes

Phillies cannot improve without making these defensive fixes

The Phillies' defense was atrocious this season. It was the worst in the majors. It was the worst this city has seen in decades. 

When looking at why the Phillies fell apart in the second half, the offense deserves its share of the blame, but the defense faltered all year long.

The Phillies are not going to contend with below-average defenders at nearly every position. You just can't, even if you have a staff full of aces.

I personally take defensive metrics with a grain of salt, but the Phils' figure of minus-129 defensive runs saved this season is hard to ignore and certainly passes the eye test. It's 28 defensive runs worse than the next-worst team, the 111-loss Orioles.

The four main reasons:

1. Infield defense an overall weakness

There was a 100 percent chance the Phillies' shortstop defense was going to be worse this season. That's what happens when you move on from a defensive whiz like Freddy Galvis, who by the way is still making sensational plays and saving his pitching staff in San Diego.

Phillies shortstops have committed 19 errors this season, a dozen more than their league-low seven last year.

Scott Kingery did improve at short after a shaky start. And it seems clear the Phillies aren't sold on J.P. Crawford's defense at short. Crawford had more errors — mostly on throws — in 30 games at shortstop this season than Galvis had in 155 starts last year.

To make matters worse, the Phillies received Galvis-like offensive production from their shortstops this season. They got Galvis' bat without his glove. Don't be surprised if the Phils add a defensive-minded veteran shortstop this offseason, especially if Kingery moves to 2B.

2. Catchers couldn't catch

Jorge Alfaro graded out well this season with pitch-framing. Every other aspect of his receiving was poor. There is a case to be made that Alfaro's focus — and really the organization's focus — on pitch-framing and catching the ball perfectly made him worse at catching it, period.

The Phillies have the most passed balls in the National League. A lot of them were inexcusable for a major-league catcher. Only the Pirates have more combined passed balls and wild pitches.

These are costly, costly events that increase the other team's scoring chance in a substantial way. 

Alfaro's offseason focus will likely be enhancing his receiving ability. If the Phils move on from Wilson Ramos, they need to add a second catcher who excels defensively. The free-agent pickings are slim. Yasmani Grandal is out there but why would the Dodgers let him walk?

3. Rhys Hoskins is not a leftfielder

It's not his fault he's out there, but Hoskins is not a leftfielder, he's a first baseman. Hoskins' range is comparable to Pat Burrell's midway through Burrell's career, but Burrell could at least make up for it with a strong and accurate throwing arm.

The Phillies had the fourth-most errors in left field this year and the fifth-fewest assists.

Hoskins at first base with Carlos Santana at 3B is a legit possibility for 2019. Third base defense would be sacrificed for the betterment of offense and left field defense ... which is definitely more palatable if it means Bryce Harper is there.

4. Odubel Herrera regressed in CF

The defensive metrics liked Herrera until this season, and again, the eye test backs up the change. Herrera did not get good jumps this season. He did not make strong throws and was routinely tested by baserunners. The throwing arms of Herrera and Hoskins both grade out toward the bottom of baseball, with Hoskins ranking dead last among 58 qualifying outfielders.

Roman Quinn's above-average defense was glaring because of what it replaced.

Herrera had another multi-blunder game Tuesday night in Denver, not hustling on a double-play ball he had no excuse to not beat out, then later muffing a ball in deep right field.

The Phillies probably realize at this point Quinn is the better all-around player, but Quinn's constant issues staying healthy mean that the Phils would also have to bring in a fourth outfielder they'd feel comfortable playing a lot in center. Keeping Herrera as that fourth outfielder if no intriguing trade offer materializes could be an option.

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