by Cuyler Meade @cuylermeade
The Jean Segura trade was an interesting one for the D-Backs for a number of reasons, not least of which because they could have had a middle infielder (Howie Kendrick, who instead re-signed with the Dodgers for two years and $20 million) who appeared more suited for Arizona’s needs if they had been willing to give up the 39th pick in the draft.
But in order to protect that pick, Dave Stewart chose to move on from Chase Anderson and Aaron Hill, along with intriguing infield prospect Isan Diaz.
With the deal done, however, it’s time to assess the impact. Bringing in Segura and losing Anderson creates a number of moving parts.
With incumbent Nick Ahmed’s defensive metrics dwarfing Segura’s (Ahmed’s 2015 UZR, an advanced defensive rating, was a whopping 11.3, good for third best among shortstops last season. Segura’s was 0.4, 14th best at the position), it seems logical to expect Segura to move over to second base, a position he’s never played in the majors.
Hill’s departure clears up some of the logjam at second, but hardly all of it. Chris Owings’ best path to playing time is at the keystone, and fast-rising prospect Brandon Drury (one of the D-Backs’ top-rated minors players) spends most of his time there as well. Installing Segura at second means moving Owings to utility and might keep Drury in the minors a little longer.
But second base was a position of need for the Diamondbacks, and it could be argued they’ve addressed it, as long as Segura can make the transition. Owings is well suited for a utility role, and Drury can also play third.
The impact on the rotation is significant, but simple. Anderson has hardly demonstrated can’t-miss stuff in the majors, but he’s been a consistent innings-eater that filled out the back of the rotation nicely. His departure likely opens the door for up-and-comer Archie Bradley to slide into the sixth starter slot, which some D-Backs fans will see as a win. Whether Bradley, who posted a 5.80 ERA in 8 starts last season, is ready for such a move is another story. Other options to fill in for Anderson include long-time utility pitcher Josh Collmenter and last season’s minor-league acquisition Zach Godley.
In the batting order, Segura’s speed (89 steals in the past three years combined) makes him look like a top-of-the-order guy, but his hideous walk rate (2.2 percent last season) contributed to a poor on-base percentage over the past two seasons (.289 and .281 in 2014 and 2015 respectively), so he may profile out as more of a back-order guy. He split most of his time last season in Milwaukee between 1st and 7th in the lineup.
In giving up Ender Inciarte as part of the Shelby Miller deal, the D-Backs also lost 101 games and 470 plate appearances at the leadoff spot, so it’s possible they’ll look to Segura to fill that position. A.J. Pollock’s team-leading 39 steals and excellent .367 OBP last season will also merit consideration, but Pollock did well batting second in front of Paul Goldschmidt. That situation will be something to watch for in Spring Training.