The Diamondbacks got the hot stove going properly Wednesday night. A trade that sent Jean Segura, Mitch Haniger and Zac Curtis to the Mariners for Taijuan Walker and Ketel Marte is one hell of a way to start the offseason. I mean, no one saw that coming. As we’ve been working diligently on our Offseason Plan, I can let it be known that this is a scenario we’ve discussed, but not one that we saw as being a high possibility. Well, Mike Hazen just let it be known that he’s not afraid to pull out all the stops, because there’s nothing conservative about this trade. The trade is also less than straightforward and you’d certainly like to know how the D-backs made out. So let’s try to get a feel for it.

What Arizona is Giving Up

Jean Segura is clearly the biggest piece going from Arizona to Seattle. Of course, Segura is coming off of what was easily the best season of his career, one in which he set career highs in a multitude of offensive categories. It’s hard to know how much hitting in Arizona was a benefit, and if playing at second base did anything to bolster his production. The Diamondbacks sold high, and a few things will change for Segura in Seattle: he’ll no longer be in a hitter’s park and he’ll be shifting back to shortstop. Segura was projected to make $7.3 million next season in his second pass through arbitration with $10-12 million or more a possibility in 2018. Put it all together, and Segura was in line to make nearly $20 million over the next two years, and it’s hard to imagine he was going to keep producing six wins per season. This isn’t to say that Segura wasn’t worth the money — he probably was — but again, the D-backs sold him at the peak of his value.

Mitch Haniger looked like the kind of guy the Diamondbacks needed — an outfielder that could play stellar defense in a corner and cover center field relatively well in a pinch. Haniger had shown an ability to hit the ball hard, got on base, and went through a tremendous amount of career rehabilitation in the minors to be resurrected as a Dude. With “defenders” like Yasmany Tomas and Brandon Drury patrolling the corners for much of 2016, upgraded outfield defense seemed like a priority. It still may be, but any upgrade won’t be coming from Haniger. His MLB track record is extremely short, and Haniger is anything but a sure bet, but his future looked promising even if he is a late-bloomer. Haniger has loads of team control remaining, but it’s unclear if he’s more than a fourth outfielder going forward. Zac Curtis is a short lefty with mediocre stuff and isn’t a big loss for Arizona. Consider him a throw-in here.

What Arizona is Receiving

As Segura was the headliner going out, Taijuan Walker is clearly the headliner coming in. Walker was the 43rd overall pick in the 2010 draft out of a New York high school. A raw pitcher with big stuff, he’s seen his stock rise and fall over the course of his minor league and major league career. He’s pitched part of four seasons in the majors with varying degrees of success and failure. In 62 starts, he’s pitched to a 4.18 ERA with a 4.30 FIP while striking out 8.12 batters per nine and walking just 2.50. Just as Segura leaves a hitter’s park for a pitcher’s park, Walker will be moving to a less favorable environment. He’s surrendered 52 home runs over the last two seasons, and while he won’t have to face DH’s, he will have to face Chase Field and Coors Field regularly. Walker’s projected to earn $2.8 million in his first year of arbitration in 2017, but was as Super Two qualifier and will get to head to arbitration four times, rather than the standard three. That’ll be important as Walker continues his career, as he may get pretty expensive come 2019 and 2020.

Ketel Marte isn’t chopped liver, but he did very little convince people otherwise in 2016. His second stint in the majors was rough: Marte struggled to a .259/.287/.323 line in 119 games, good for just a wRC+ of 66. He managed 21 doubles, but just one homer, and stole 11 bases. None of that is particularly impressive, and neither is the fact that he’s a roughly average defender at short. A scuffling bat and a non-sterling glove resulted in Marte being a below-replacement player last season. The saving grace is that he’s cheap and just turned 23-years old last month. There’s room for growth — clearly — and he’s performed well offensively in the minors and was very good in his 2015 MLB rookie campaign, so the hope is for a bounce-back. He’ll play at the league minimum next season, with arbitration looming in 2019.

Putting It All Together, And Moving Forward

This deal represents a couple of intriguing storylines. Seattle is trying to cash in on what’s left of their aging core and Segura helps with that. Hell, Haniger helps with that as he’s fresh and athletic. But Arizona accomplished two goals: they lightened the financial burden by about $5 million for 2017 and the did what every team in baseball wants to do but can’t find a way to pull off: acquire young starting pitching. The Diamondbacks have plenty of pitching concerns and adding Walker complicates the situation in the short term. But he’s controllable for four more years, and while his command has proven a challenge at times, Walker was formerly one of baseball’s top prospects for a reason. His stuff is big, and while the results have been slow to come, the raw talent is still there.

This should sound familiar. Which Diamondbacks pitcher in 2016 fit that narrative? You’d do well to guess “Archie Bradley” here. Both have fastballs that can sit 93-94 and touch higher with plenty of movement. Both have big curveballs, and both have changeups (well, technically a splitter in Walker’s case) that are still developing. Both sit in the middle of the batted ball spectrum, which can be scary, and while Bradley has struck out more hitters, he’s also walked more batters while Walker has been allowing more long balls. Both have their warts, but both have their unrealized potential. There’ve been whispers about both winding up in the bullpen someday, but the Diamondbacks will keep them in the rotation. It’s up to the Diamondbacks to find that potential and cash in on young, big arms. They’ve got them in the fold, now they’ve got to start getting production from them. The last two regimes struggled to pull this off and the newest one hasn’t given up the crusade. Hopefully the results will be different this time around.

Give Mike Hazen credit. He did something every GM has tried and few have been able to accomplish. It’ll push another pitcher from the rotation, and now Arizona can cash in one or two of their pitching assets. They sold high on Segura, which was smart, but they didn’t sell him for prospects. They sold him for MLB players. Arizona isn’t packing it in, but Hazen is clearly willing to tweak the roster if he can get what he wants. Taijuan Walker has a lot of work to do, but he’s the kind of pitcher every team would love to gamble on. Now he’s the Diamondbacks’ gamble, and you can lump him in with guys like Bradley, Patrick Corbin, and Robbie Ray. Lots of potential, lots of question marks. But those are four young, cost-controlled pitchers to pair around Zack Greinke. Maybe Corbin slides and Shelby Miller sticks around. The same applies. With Braden Shipley around and Anthony Banda on the verge, there’s a lot to be done yet and this is just the beginning. Let’s see what’s next.

28 Responses to Diamondbacks Sell High on Jean Segura, Acquire Taijuan Walker

  1. Anonymous says:

    but you said they had no currency. Like the trade, took a lot of guts by dipoto. Losing Haniger, that guy looked like the real deal in center. I think taijuan, was done in the last couple of years by some shady defense, and a couple of games too, of being squeezed. throw in some overuse as well. the real sleeper on dbacks, is Matt Koch. Can’t teach his deception. well aj is back to lead off.

    • Shawn butts says:


    • Jeff Wiser says:

      Didn’t say “no currency,” said “currency deficiency.” There’s a difference. Name all of the other players not named Segura, Pollock and Goldschmidt that have huge value right now. There were few big time chips to trade in and they just dealt one of them. They can get pieces back for other guys, but they’d be selling low on most.

  2. Anonymous says:

    but koch should start in aaa, for obvious reasons now.

  3. Jim Ellis says:

    Baseball Reference ranked starting pitching ERA for 2016 in a Tweet the other day and guess what? Every playoff team was bunched up together with the lowest ERA for starters. Walker and more will help AZ turn the corner for sure, and a chance at a bounce back from the existing stock but it’s hard as a fan to like that sell high thingie. Not just because you get used to the TV play by play screaming their name but because you expect that player who you hear reaching base in morning noon and night to be the guy to take you to the promise land.

    On this site, I advocated for a MI trade of just this sort and of an OF trade as well. But to do both for a singer pitcher? I wasn’t expecting that. Five million schmive million. Like you said, Walker figures to cost much more anyhow. Plus, what a bust this could be in a Post-Miller world we now live in. What would have we been calling a trade for a premier IF for SP just days ago? A one way ticket out of town with Miller’s picture on it. Today must be a Post-Miller, post-truth if we aren’t minimally going to caution such actions.

    Are these trades the same? No. Not by a mile. But they do carry risk for Hazen as similarly, the pitcher he receives could be a flop on the mound while two or three Seattle pieces could thrive in the spotlight very brightly.

    Hazen will carry a zero balance in my book for some time, no matter the trades still to come. Credits can be earned beginning April 2nd.

    Was that too harsh? I don’t know but I’m not in the mood to trust anything above the clubhouse ceiling for now. Too much to forget.

    • Jeff Wiser says:

      Let’s remember that the organization tweaked Shelby Miller’s mechanics in the spring before the regular season began, and decided to adjust the pitch mix he’d been successful with. There’s reason to think he can get back on track, and down the stretch, he showed glimpses of getting there.

      Walker’s a different case. He’s still trying to find himself as a pitcher. This is why the Bradley comp is so compelling — both have huge upside but both struggle with mechanics and command. They aren’t finished products yet and there’s still time to refine them. That time is running short, however, so a fresh approach to managing them provides a new opportunity.

      With just two more remaining years of Segura that are expected to be expensive, they’ve gotten four more of Walker and five more of Marte. I liked Haniger quite a bit, but his ultimate role is still TBD. Simply put, this is not the Shelby Miller Trade 2.0.

  4. Jim Ellis says:

    The completely other side of me thinks…

    From a Nick Piecoro az central article:

    “The young core guys that we have that we’re going to try to build around, having them have opportunities to have at-bats is a critical part of seeing their long-term success and watching them thrive,” Hazen said. “That was a small piece to this, yes.”

    This is the other side of me. I’m excited, if I allow myself to trust the front office, that is.

    Here Hazen directly talks about a building up of a team I know and want to see succeed. This move is not signaling a huge teardown. Pieces will need to come and to go in order for a team under .500 to be a playoff kinda group. Should Hazen be bullish on this core group and build around them? I don’t know or care because looking forward to a season is half the fun of baseball.

    • Jeff Wiser says:

      The great thing is that with all of this team control remaining for pitchers, and with Banda on the cusp, they can still do either and get competitive in time to see these guys contribute or sell them before *they* get wildly expensive, giving the team a lot of future flexibility.

  5. This was a move that had to be done. The team was out of player acquisition bullets outside of the MLB club. The reality was the team isn’t going to compete in 2017 and possibly 2018 as well. So Hazen elected to turn a shorter term asset with more certainty in Segura, who was a prime candidate for regression in 2017 anyway, into longer term assets with more upside and volatility. There’s very little downside to the move because if it doesn’t work the team will still be bad down the road anyway and it has the potential to turn around the team’s fortunes for 2017-2020. It isn’t a tear down type move because the team didn’t acquire prospect talent that was years away, they acquired MLB assets in the deal including a very valuable one in the promising, but under-delivering Taijuan Walker.

    It will be interesting to see if Welington Castillo is next, although given the lack of decent options in the FA market and no depth behind him there is little incentive to move him. Chris Herrmann isn’t a guy I like having back there very often in the first place (I see him more as a 1B/OF type) as a backup and certainly not as a starter, although his offensive production made him palatable in terms of being a backup.

    • Jim Ellis says:

      There will be plenty of beef mode or whatever nickname his streaky hitting deserves, mostly because depth isn’t mentioned as part of the C position and backs, well, ever.

      I too wonder what else will be done but I am willing to say that it’s entirely possible that there are no other moves for some time. If Hazen is truly skilled, we will see less big league guys flying around. Much of the league is waking up to what bad trades look like and how to avoid them. Seattle notwithstanding.

  6. Jim says:

    This was clearly not a “sell high” trade. We get back another “high ceiling” guy (i.e., a tease) to add to all the other “high ceiling” guys that constitute a mediocre pitching staff. Love the positive attitude, but it impresses me more as naive. We also gave up a key piece where we are thin (OF) and picked up a throw-in where we are deep (IF). On the other hand, we dumped some salary and, presumably, opened up some ABs for Drury (assuming we play CO at SS as we should, moving NA to a utility role/late inning defender role where he belongs). Can’t wait for Derrick Hall to explain what a great move this was. Meh.

    • CBlake says:

      The Drury angle is interesting. His best position is third, and his next is second base. He is not a good OF. Does this open a spot at second for him?

      Marte was a bust. No power, middling defense (tons of errors). But the jury is still a bit out on him. Walker was the key here. Marte is just a lottery ticket.

      If this finds Drury a home where he can succeed and Walker fits in, it will be a successful trade. AZ had a surplus of infielders and to turn one of them into a young starting pitcher (potential star) has to be considered a success.

  7. coldblueAZ says:

    If receiving two players with a combined 2016 WAR of 0.7 for a player with a 2016 WAR of 5.7 is “selling high”, I think you might need to rethink the meaning.

    The Dbacks got fleeced.

    • Kevin says:

      You may want to increase the number of variables you include in you analysis.

    • Jim Ellis says:

      but will that 5.7 mark be the peak? Hence, sell high. Its hard to know who will rise or fall but the bet is that jean has peaked and walker will rise. this bet is why so many are lauding this trade for the Dbacks… just saying.

      • coldblueAZ says:

        So many may be lauding Walker’s potential except the GM who was willing to trade the ‘heir apparent’ to Felix for one so many think has peaked.

  8. Jim says:

    Let’s expand the variables. Walker gives up 1.8/9 HRs which one assumes will go up at Chase. His variable WAR are variously estimated as: .7 (Baseball Reference), 3 (Fangraphs) and 4.8 (Baseball Prospectives). The low end seems appropriate inasmuch as Walker does not go past the 5th inning in 50% of his starts. So he basically is not an “innings eater” and will be a drain on the BP because he does not make quality starts. He may have a “high ceiling,” but that term really means that, so far, he has been an underachiever. This could be a good trade, but right now it is betting on the come and certainly, based on actual performance, was not “selling high.” We dumped salary and, in exchange, got a couple of guys who have potential, but, at this point, are, variably, a tantalizing underachiever and a “too young to judge” guy.

  9. […] Diamondbacks Sell High on Jean Segura, Acquire Taijuan Walker […]

  10. Wally says:

    Like the move, load up on controllable young pitching. I’d keep going too, maybe put AJ out there. He could bring back a package based around Joe Ross, maybe a prospect type like Cole, and then a young OFer like Taylor or Goodwin.

    Then eat some salary and spin Greinke back to LAD or SF for some more major league ready guys like Verdugo, Diaz and maybe a Beuhler. That’s probably too rich for us.

    Not a tear down, but a step back to lengthen control and improve the pitching.

  11. Tim says:

    Decent article, however Taijuan Walker is from Yucaipa High School in Yucaipa, California.

  12. Cody says:

    Walker looked pretty filthy in his last few starts of the year when he incorporated a turn on his delivery. He suddenly began to locate his curveball and it had a lot tighter break on it than ever before and he was spotting it and burying it in the dirt at will. He looked like an entirely different pitcher. I saw him have games before that one earlier in the season where he could have a quality outing by just throwing 95+ at the belt and above and essentially nothing else, so the scary thing about this deal is that I think Taijuan looked like he had finally genuinely figured it out and Jerry traded him.

    At least Segura looks like the real deal and his adjustments at the plate were clearly a reason for his newfound success and I think he’ll have no problem next year as long as he keeps his hands low and keeps the swing he had last year. I’m also really excited to see Haniger play and think his combo of righty power to go along with his fielding in Safeco could play really well, but Taijuan is gonna be lights out next year if healthy and keeps his new mechanics. Good luck.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Arizona won this deal.its not even close. Farts

  14. […] the trade broke, I assessed the value of the deal and came to the basic conclusion that the methodology was sound. Ryan took a look at Walker himself […]

  15. John Moshier says:

    How bout selling high on Lamb who was very human after the break and moving Drury to his best position:third?

  16. […] D-backs’ early blockbuster trade has mostly been panned as the Jean Segura for Taijuan Walker deal. You can see why — those […]

  17. […] the situation in which GM Mike Hazen and his new staff have landed in Arizona, and by trading for Taijuan Walker last week—who may be particularly well positioned to handle a transition to the […]

  18. […] have seemingly tapered off a little bit. This was to be expected to some degree. First, there was the trade that brought to the desert Taijuan Walker (and a piece) for Jean Segura (and pieces), the swapping of catchers, and even the […]

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