Phillies

Matt Klentak believes Phillies got 'one of the top shortstops in the game' in Jean Segura

Matt Klentak believes Phillies got 'one of the top shortstops in the game' in Jean Segura

The Phillies still have miles to go before they can be considered a surefire contender.

But they got better on Monday, thanks to the acquisition of two-time All-Star shortstop Jean Segura.

“He is one of the top shortstops in the game, both offensively and defensively,” Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said shortly after wrapping up the five-player deal with the Mariners (see story).

“Shortstop is an area where we didn’t get a great deal of production last. We think Jean Segura at shortstop moves the needle in terms of win expectancy, probably several wins, and I think that’s important as we try to turn an 80-win team into a playoff contender.

“Shortstop was an area we wanted to improve and we believe we’ve done that. Jean Segura is a really good major league player.”

Segura is an above-average defender.

But offense is what mostly made him attractive to the Phillies, who finished last in the NL in hits (1270) and batting average (.234) last season.

Segura, who turns 29 in March, is an excellent hitter, a contact machine who led the majors with 203 hits in 2016. He hit .308 with an .803 OPS over the last three seasons.

Last year, Phillies shortstops hit .235 with a .651 OPS. Those marks ranked 27th and 28th, respectively, in the majors.

“This was about making the 2019 Phillies better,” Klentak said.

The Phillies parted with former first-round pick J.P. Crawford and Carlos Santana, both infielders. Santana’s departure clears the way for Rhys Hoskins to move back to first base after struggling defensively in left field in 2018. Hoskins was the worst leftfielder in baseball, according to several sources of advanced data. The Phils will be better defensively in the outfield in 2019.

And who will be in the outfield? Right now, the Phils have Roman Quinn, Odubel Herrera, Nick Williams and Aaron Altherr. More additions are expected.

“We’re still in a position where we can explore outfield improvements,” Klentak said.

Segura will make just under $15 million in 2019 and reliever Juan Nicasio, acquired in the deal as a Seattle salary dump, will make just over $9 million. The Phillies have plenty of financial flexibility and remain in the hunt for top free agents. They would like to sign Manny Machado to play third base. They would consider Bryce Harper for the outfield if they don’t sign Machado. They have made an offer to lefty Patrick Corbin, who is expected to pick a destination this week, and remain interested in relievers Zach Britton and Andrew Miller.

“We continue to explore deals in all areas knowing we have the payroll flexibility to address things either in a signing or a trade,” Klentak said.

He would not address specific free agents.

The addition of Segura means that Scott Kingery, who played shortstop most often last year, will move into the super-utility role that the team envisioned for him last spring. That could change if second baseman Cesar Hernandez is traded. In that case, Kingery would become the second baseman.

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A peek at Phillies' potential roster as two players head to injured list

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A peek at Phillies' potential roster as two players head to injured list

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Phillies on Tuesday offered a couple of clues as to what their opening day roster will look like when they confirmed that outfielder Roman Quinn and reliever Tommy Hunter would begin the season on the 10-day injured list.

Quinn suffered an oblique strain early in camp and only began swinging a bat in recent days.

Hunter is recovering from a mild flexor strain in his right arm.

The Phillies will open their season a week from Thursday against the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park.

Things are always subject to change, of course, but here’s what we know about the roster nine days before the season opener:

Starting pitchers

Aaron Nola will get the ball on opening day. Jake Arrieta, Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin and Vince Velasquez will round out the five-man rotation to start the season. However, it’s possible that someone like Velasquez could initially be used out of the bullpen because off days would allow the Phils to go with four starters for the first week-plus.

Relievers

Manager Gabe Kapler and the front office like to go with eight relievers. They will likely include: Right-handers David Robertson, Hector Neris, Seranthony Dominguez, Pat Neshek, Juan Nicasio and lefties Adam Morgan and Jose Alvarez. With Hunter going on the IL, Victor Arano or Edubray Ramos could get the eighth spot. And, as mentioned, Velasquez could temporarily be the ninth reliever.

Catchers

J.T. Realmuto is the starter and Andrew Knapp is on his way to becoming the backup. Knapp is having a strong spring and he’s also on the 40-man roster, which gives him the upper hand over non-roster players Drew Butera and Rob Brantly.

Infielders

Rhys Hoskins, Cesar Hernandez, Maikel Franco and Jean Segura are set. Scott Kingery may end up being the lone backup infielder. If the Phils wanted to add a second reserve infielder, they could peel back on a reliever and carry Mitch Walding, who is on the 40-man roster, or clear room on the 40-man roster for Andrew Romine, Sean Rodriguez or Phil Gosselin.

Outfielders

Did you hear that Bryce Harper is a Phillie? He and Andrew McCutchen, both former NL MVPs, will be in right and left field, respectively, and Odubel Herrera should be ready to open in center field after being slowed by illness early in camp. 

With Quinn going on the IL, the Phils can carry both Aaron Altherr and Nick Williams on the bench. Quinn’s IL stint can be backdated to March 25, making an April 5 return possible. At that point, the Phils would have to make a decision because both Quinn and Altherr are out of minor-league options.



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At The Yard Podcast: Mike Trout staying in LA; predicting opening day roster; Carlos Santana story

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At The Yard Podcast: Mike Trout staying in LA; predicting opening day roster; Carlos Santana story

On this edition of At The Yard, Corey Seidman and Jim Salisbury react to Mike Trout's record contract which will keep him with the Angels through 2030.

The guys take a look at some of the Phillies' positional battles and how the opening day roster might look.

Also, what to make of the Carlos Santana story.

1:00 — The fantasy of Mike Trout being a Phillie is over.
4:30 — Trout's new contract shows why signing Bryce Harper was so important.
7:00 — Position player battles.
14:30 — What to make of the Carlos Santana story.
18:30 — Santana story reflects poorly on Gabe Kapler's leadership.
23:00 — Important year for Vince Velasquez.
26:00 — What would be your first purchase with $430 million?

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