Breaking Down the Jean Segura/Carlos Santana Trade (Fantasy Baseball)
In the midst of the Mariners’ fire sale, it seemed that every player outside of Mitch Haniger was going to be traded. Well, that proved true on December 3, as the Mariners shipped Jean Segura, reliever Juan Nicasio, and reliever James Pazos (weird resemblance in name to former ace named James Paxton? GM Jerry Dipoto must miss him already) in exchange for Carlos Santana and J.P. Crawford. Nicasio and Pazos will likely not be rosterable in fantasy next year, so we’ll turn our attention to the threesome of Segura, Santana, and Crawford.
Segura certainly seems to be happy about it:
Should he be that happy? Well, let’s find out.
Jean Segura to Climb the SS Ranks?
Segura’s rankings over the past three seasons:
- 2018: 62nd best player in Yahoo leagues, and the ninth best shortstop (man, shortstop was deep)
- 2017: 77th overall, 11th at short
- 2016: 22nd best hitter according to Fangraphs, and sixth best at 2B, where he played with the Diamondbacks
ESPN has him as the 10th best SS and 61st overall hitter going into 2019. CBS has him right around 70th overall and as the 11th-12th best shortstop. Long story short, the guy is good.
Segura figures to hit near the top of the order, as he did with the Mariners. At first glance, Segura had better hitters surrounding him in Seattle than he currently does in Philly. However, that all changes with a Manny Machado or Bryce Harper signing. As it stands, he figures to bat second (in between Cesar Hernandez and Rhys Hoskins), which should produce plenty of opportunities. He would probably stay in that spot even with Machado or Harper coming on board.
Segura should see a jump in counting stats simply by moving from an extreme pitchers’ park in Safeco Field (27th in runs, 15th in homers), to the hitting confines of Citizens Bank Park (13th in runs, fourth in homers). Segura is certainly not a power hitter (season high of 20 homers came in 2016, in which nothing in his batted ball profile changed drastically, but his HR/FB rate was twice what it was in ’17 and ’18). Segura’s calling cards are runs (averaged 91 runs over past three years), steals (25), and average (.308 average). Finally, he should face easier pitchers over in the NL East as opposed to the AL West (goodbye Astros).
While he should see a boost to runs and RBIs, his average and stolen bases may drop. A closer look at his batted ball profile shows an inflated BABIP of .340 over the past three years (the average BABIP is .300), plus he has a low walk rate, high groundball rate (average of 53% versus the league average of 44%), and subsequent lower line-drive rate (19% average versus the 21% league average). Add it all up, and both Steamers and Depth Charts project a step back for Segura in wRC+ and average.
Furthermore, the Phillies ranked 23rd in MLB in steals, whereas the Mariners ranked 13th (having Segura and Dee Gordon, amongst others, obviously had a lot to do with that). While Segura has stolen 20+ bags six seasons in a row, if the Phillies do not let him run as much, his value could drop significantly, and this is not something that the projections have considered. This possibility only increases if a big-name signing occurs, as I bet that Gabe Kapler would prefer Machado or Harper to drive Segura in, as opposed to Segura risking outs on the basepaths.
To get Segura, you have to draft him in the sixth round or earlier. That ADP seems right, but you should not expect his ceiling to be a top-25 hitter (like in ’16). If Machado or Harper come along, his ADP will likely be bumped up five-to-10 picks simply due to likely scoring more runs with a slight offset in decreasing stolen bases.
Carlos Santana in Purgatory
Santana is fantastic in OBP and points leagues, but does not offer much in standard leagues. It is nearly impossible to understand where Santana should be drafted in 2019, given that the Mariners are already shopping him around. Santana will be hitting in a significantly worse lineup, with only proven guys Mitch Haniger and Dee Gordon truly striking fear into opponents. Mallex Smith will be an asset, but Kyle Seager continues to decline and is essentially a guarantee to not be traded, given the poison pill in his contract in that he has a player option for $15M in the final year of his contract if he is traded. Ryon Healy may be the next one traded. Jay Bruce had a very rough 2017 and could be shopped. J.P. Crawford has not shown his hitting promise so far in the majors (more on him later). In short, there are a lot of unknowns surrounding these Mariners and Santana.
For now, let’s pretend that Santana remains on the M’s. The order figures to go Gordon, Haniger, Healy, Santana, or something close to that, with Mallex Smith likely hitting ninth. Alternatively, Smith could hit in the first or second spot, dropping Haniger through Santana one more spot. His triple-slash of .229/.352/.414 leaves much to be desired on the ends, given that you expect a first baseman to hit more than 24 homers and have a better SLG. However, his .309 wRC+ shows that he is still an above-average fantasy asset. His value decreases significantly moving from a hitters’ park to a pitchers’ park and now he is with way less talent than he is used to being surrounded by.
ESPN currently has him as a top-125 player. CBS has him in the same boat, but with a massive jump in points leagues (top 85). Santana is entering his age-33 season, and he is slated to fall off at some point. Given that he is a crafty veteran, that drop-off may not be as precipitous as a typical mid-30s player. His batted ball profile is very consistent year-over-year and falls in line with league averages (career averages of 18% line-drive rate, 42% groundball rate, and 40% flyball rate).
However, getting someone with more upside like Adalberto Mondesi, Mike Clevinger, Max Muncy, or Jonathan Villar seems to be a better route to go, given the uncertainty surrounding his current team. Consider Santana’s grade to be “incomplete” until we understand who is left on the Mariners, including Santana himself.
J.P. Crawford to Finally Turn it On?
It’s no secret that Crawford struggled last year, hitting to the tune of .214/.319/.393 over 138 plate appearances, due to a broken left hand, sidelining him from mid-June through early September. He also had a forearm strain earlier in the season. He is known to be a tremendous defensive player, but that helps us zilch over here in fantasy. He was once ranked as a top-30 prospect, but mainly for his defensive skills. He’s never hit more than 15 homers in a full season, and while he did steal 24 bases across two levels in 2014, he hasn’t run at that pace since.
Both Steamers and Depth Charts are projecting him to be a below-league-average hitter (94 wRC+, .228/.321/.361 triple-slash). CBS has him in the mid-200s in both roto and head-to-head leagues, which seems generous. He is worth holding onto in dynasty leagues to see how he progresses this year. He should start with cutting down on strikeouts (27% K rate last year).
Trending Up: Segura