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December 02, 2020

MLB trade rumors: Are Phillies shopping Jean Segura? If so, why?

There has been (more or less) radio silence from the Phillies — and pretty much every other MLB team — with the offseason technically underway but no interesting action to speak of yet. The usually hot stove is barely lukewarm.

The deadline for teams to tender contracts to players with less than six years of service time is Wednesday evening, and it is expected by many that the influx of a bevy of younger free agents will paint a better picture of the market for teams, and moves could start streaming in as soon as this week.

But it's not just the free agent market that's been quiet — the trade market has been bare as well.

That could also be changing soon, though, and Phillies fans will surely be disappointed to hear that the team is not connected to superstars like Francisco Lindor or Kris Bryant. Instead, they could be looking to unload some salary — that is, if you believe this report from MLB insider Jon Heyman. 

From a straight baseball perspective, getting rid of Jean Segura makes little sense. He's the result of the team trading away J.P Crawford, who won a Gold Glove in Seattle this year (because of course he did). Trading away a young player, who turns out to be good, in exchange for two years from a veteran? That sounds familiar. 

Segura — who can play second, third and shortstop — is a consistent contributor in the middle of the batting order, having hit .266 in 2020 and .280 in 2019 in his time in the red pinstripes. Over 195 games as a Phillie, he's knocked 19 homers, collected 85 RBI and had a solid .347 OBP in the shortened 2020 season.

Simply put, the Phillies are lacking in starting caliber infielders right now. With Rhys Hoskins at first and top prospect Alec Bohm sure to start at third, the Phils are left with just utility man Scott Kingery remaining from last year, a player who struggled at the plate after returning from a bout with COVID-19.

Shortstop Didi Gregorius was not given a qualifying offer and is an unrestricted free agent, and just one other infielder, 23-year-old Nick Maton (who has not played above Double-A), is on the team's 40-man roster.

Trading Segura makes even less sense when looking at the team's depleted pool of prospects. While there is definitely talent, former first-round pick Bryson Stott is likely at least a full year away from being big league ready, and Arquimedes Gamboa, once a top-10 prospect in the farm system, has fallen way out of favor due to his struggles to hit. Put bluntly, Segura isn't blocking anybody from getting significant playing time.

There is really only one reason to trade Segura if you're the Phillies, and that's to save some cash. The 30-year-old is under contract for two more years at $15 million per season, and has a 2023 club option for $17 million. That money could theoretically be put to better use in re-signing J.T. Realmuto — or perhaps even Gregorius. Or the Phillies could be trying to recoup some of the millions they claim to have lost due to the pandemic in 2020.

Either way, hearing that your team is looking to sell off valuable pieces in the offseason — not even at the July trade deadline — is never a good sign. 

The Phillies currently lack a clear leader and direction in their front office, so it stands to reason there is a pretty good chance mixed messages and frustration for fans will be common in the coming months.

Or, perhaps this is simply other teams kicking the tires and the Phils will stand pat, re-sign their veteran free agents and contend again in 2021. We can only hope.

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