As expected, the Phillies have declined their $17MM option on second baseman Jean Segura in favor of a $1MM buyout. Philadelphia also confirmed previous reports they’ve exercised their $16MM option on Aaron Nola and that Zach Eflin has declined his end of a $15MM mutual option.
The move could bring an end to Segura’s four-year tenure in Philadelphia. First acquired from the Mariners over the 2018-19 offseason in the deal that sent J.P. Crawford and offloaded Carlos Santana’s contract to Seattle, Segura has spent the past four years playing in the middle infield more or less every day. After one season at shortstop, he’s spent the last three years as the club’s primary second baseman. Segura has been a solid player on both sides of the ball, pairing adequate offense with slightly above-average defensive marks at the keystone.
The two-time All-Star doesn’t have huge power upside, but he consistently puts the ball in play. He’s never had a strikeout rate above the league average in his career, and this past season’s 15% mark is about seven points below the league figure. Paired with above-average speed and an all-fields approach that makes him tough to position against, Segura hit between .266 and .290 in all four seasons of his Phillies tenure. He doesn’t draw many walks, but the solid batting averages have propped up his on-base marks to a reasonable range.
Altogether, Segura put up a .281/.337/.418 mark in just shy of 1800 plate appearances with the Phils. He had a fairly similar .277/.336/.387 line this past season. A fractured finger suffered when he was struck by a pitch while trying to bunt kept him to just 98 games and 387 plate appearances, but he’s otherwise topped 125 games in every full season since becoming a regular with the Brewers in 2013.
There’s no question Segura’s a valuable player, but the hefty option price and modest buyout figure made that a net $16MM call for the Phils. That always looked to be beyond their comfort level, particularly since the club no longer seemed to consider him an option at shortstop. Now that he’s on the open market, however, Segura profiles as arguably the top second baseman available in a generally weak free agent class at the position. He’s not likely to find a $16MM salary for the 2023 campaign, but he could approach or top that overall guarantee over multiple years.
The Phillies could certainly circle back to look to reunite with Segura at some point. Philadelphia is likely to deploy Bryson Stott at one middle infield position after the former top prospect bounced back from an atrocious start to post a solid .276/.331/.404 mark in the second half. Stott could play either middle infield position, and the Phils figure to be mentioned as a prominent suitor for the star-studded free agent shortstop class that features Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts, Trea Turner and Dansby Swanson. Matt Gelb of the Athletic indeed suggested this morning the Phillies are likely to explore the shortstop market, so it’s understandable they wouldn’t want to commit a lofty salary to cement Segura in the middle infield at the start of the offseason.
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