Jerry Dipoto has only been the general manager of the Seattle Mariners for 14 months, but the shadow of the franchise’s 15-year postseason drought looms large.
Eager to finally push Seattle over the edge, Dipoto swung a blockbuster deal Wednesday night with the Arizona Diamondbacks, acquiring middle infielder Jean Segura along with minor leaguers Mitch Haniger and Zac Curtis in exchange for right-hander Taijuan Walker and shortstop Ketel Marte.
Acquiring Segura is a major roll of the dice for Dipoto. The 26-year-old was excellent last season in Arizona, slashing .319/.368/.499 with 20 home runs, 41 doubles, and 33 steals. He led the National League with 203 hits.
That’s the good.
Segura found his way to the desert once the Milwaukee Brewers gave up on him. After a promising 2013 campaign that earned him an All-Star appearance, Segura followed that up by hitting .252/.285/.331 with 11 home runs and 163 strikeouts over 288 games from 2014-15.
With Robinson Cano at second, Segua will feature at shortstop where he’s an average defender. He is only under contract the next two seasons and is expected to earn $ 7.3 million in arbitration this winter.
SEGURA’S LAST 3 SEASONS
In return, the Mariners now have a hole in the rotation during a time when the free-agent pitching market is desolate. Walker was frustrating with his inconsistency, but did post a 2.93 ERA over his final five starts in 2016 to finish with a 4.22 ERA and 1.23 WHIP across 25 outings.
Walker just turned 24 years old and is under team control the next four seasons. He’ll give the Diamondbacks a solid No. 2 option while pushing Shelby Miller down in the rotation, taking less pressure off him as he tries to bounce back from a disastrous season.
Marte wasn’t the answer at shortstop for the Mariners, especially with the club in win-now mode and Segura is without a doubt an upgrade, but the key to Seattle’s success is pitching.
The Mariners only had one starter throw at least 160 innings (Hisashi Iwakuma), and currently project to have Nathan Karns and Ariel Miranda in the rotation – the duo combined for 150 total innings last season. Even the always reliable Felix Hernandez was limited to 153 1/3 innings due to injury last year, and the years of being the staff’s workhorse could finally be catching up to him.
Meanwhile, the offense was not the issue in 2016. They finished third in runs scored and return the core of Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, and Kyle Seager in the middle-of-the order. Segura does give the Mariners a much-needed leadoff hitter.
For Dipoto’s sake, he’ll hope this isn’t a repeat of arguably the worst move of last offseason, when he shipped Mark Trumbo to the Orioles last December for Steve Clevenger and reliever C.J. Riefenhauser.