Marlins To Sign Jean Segura

The Marlins are in agreement on a deal with Jean Segura, as first reported by Héctor Gómez of Z101 (Twitter link). Once finalized, it’ll be a two-year, $17MM contract for the CAA client.

Segura has spent the last four years in the NL East. The Phillies acquired the right-handed hitting infielder over the 2018-19 offseason in a deal that sent J.P. Crawford and offloaded the final season of Carlos Santana’s contract to the Mariners. He spent four seasons as an everyday middle infielder in Philadelphia. He hit free agency at the start of this offseason when the team bought him out for $1MM in lieu of a $17MM option.

As he has for much of his career, Segura provided consistently effective work on both sides of the ball. He hit between 10 and 14 home runs in all three full seasons while stealing between nine and 13 bases in each year. In each of the past three seasons, he’s put up slightly above-average numbers at the plate. Since the start of the 2019 campaign, the two-time All-Star owns a .281/.337/.418 line through just under 1800 trips to the dish.

Segura has typically been a durable and reliable presence in the lineup, topping 125 games in all eight full seasons from 2013-21 and playing in 57 of 60 games during the abbreviated 2020 campaign. That wasn’t the case in 2022, as he fractured his right index finger on a bunt attempt at the end of May. That required surgery and sidelined him through early August, but Segura’s rate production this year was in line with that of prior seasons.

The 32-year-old (33 in March) hit .277/.336/.387 over 387 plate appearances. He’s not one to draw many walks or hit for huge power, but he makes plenty of contact. Segura only struck out in 15% of his trips to the plate and has posted a lower than average strikeout percentage in every season of his career. He put the bat on the ball on 83.2% of his swings this past season, a rate that’s nearly six percentage points higher than the league average. Those contact skills are certainly appealing to a Marlins club that entered the offseason seeking hitters with low strikeout rates.

It’s the first notable roster move of the winter for Miami general manager Kim Ng and her staff. They’ve sought to upgrade a lineup that ranked 28th in MLB in run scoring but hadn’t made any moves to bolster the offense thus far. Segura adds a potential top-of-the-lineup threat for first-year manager Skip Schumaker.

While he’s a solid addition to the batting order, it’s not as ideal a fit positionally. Segura played shortstop for the early part of his career but posted below-average defensive marks there in 2019. After that season, Philadelphia signed Didi Gregorius and kicked Segura to the other side of the bag. He’s played almost exclusively second base for three years, with just 21 starts at third base and two starts at shortstop (all in 2020) over that stretch. Segura has manned shortstop for only two innings in the past two seasons.

Since moving to the keystone, the Dominican Republic native has rated highly with the glove. Defensive Runs Saved has credited him a cumulative six runs above average for the past three years, while Statcast has pegged him 13 runs above par. Second base is his best position at this stage of his career, meaning it appears young star Jazz Chisholm Jr. will kick over to shortstop. While Chisholm came up as a shortstop prospect, he’s played mostly second base in MLB. Like Segura, he didn’t log a single inning outside of second base in 2022. In a fairly small sample of 329 2/3 innings at shortstop from 2020-21, Chisholm rated as a below-average defender by both DRS and Statcast.

Moving Chisholm to shortstop could signal a reduction in playing time for Miguel Rojas. Regarded as Miami’s unofficial team captain, Rojas has been the primary shortstop in South Florida for five straight seasons. He’s a quality defender but hit only .236/.283/.323 across 507 plate appearances in 2022. That lackluster offensive showing could be partially explained by injury, as the 33-year-old underwent surgery to repair cartilage damage in his right wrist at season’s end. Rojas is under contract for $5MM next season and reportedly drew some trade interest from the Red Sox earlier this winter. Miami could certainly keep Rojas around as infield depth — particularly if they deal third baseman Joey Wendle instead — but the Segura signing could make them more willing to entertain trade offers on their incumbent shortstop.

Segura was one of four players and two position players (the other being Jurickson Profar) from MLBTR’s pre-offseason top 50 free agents who hadn’t yet agreed to terms. The reported contract is a near-match for the two years and $18MM which MLBTR had projected. The deal’s specific financial breakdown remains unreported, but evenly distributing $8.5MM salaries would bring Miami’s estimated 2023 payroll to $103MM, as calculated by Roster Resource. That’d be a fair bit north of this past season’s $79MM Opening Day mark.

How much money Ng and her staff still have to play with isn’t clear, though the club could continue to look for ways to address the offense. Center field is an obvious area of need, while Miami may add behind the plate or at the corner infield. The Marlins’ stable of quality young pitching gives them the chance to turn to the trade market for offensive help, which now figures to be the course of action after tonight’s dip into free agency.

Image courtesy of USA Today Sports.

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