Mariners, Diamondbacks Swing Five-Player Deal


On Thanksgiving Eve, hyperactive Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto and new Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen were not resting. Hazen swung his first deal since coming over from the Red Sox, sending Jean Segura—coming off his best season—as well as outfielder Mitch Haniger and lefthander Zac Curtis to the Mariners for righthander Taijuan Walker and infielder Ketel Marte.

Walker, seen as the heir to Felix Hernandez as the Mariners’ ace, is coming off an 8-11 season that showcased some inconsistencies. He has given up 52 homers the past two seasons combined.

“It’s not one of those guys that you’re able to acquire all the time with the state of the game now with pitching and the premium, especially on starting pitching,” Hazen said on a conference call to announce the deal. “We felt like this was an opportunity we needed to take at this moment in time.”

Meanwhile, Segura was the key for Dipoto.

“Segura was one of the premiere offensive players in the majors last season,” Dipoto said in a statement. “His combination of average, power and speed is extremely difficult to find, especially at a position like shortstop and at the top of our lineup. We believe pairing him with Robinson Cano gives us tremendous offensive potential in the middle of our infield.

“We see Haniger as a high ceiling prospect who projects to join our outfield as soon as next season, while Zac Curtis’ track record in the minors gives us great confidence in his future as a big league pitcher.”

Jean Segura, ss
Age: 26

Segura, who slashed .319/.368/.499 in his one season in the desert after being acquired from the Brewers in January for three players—most prominently Midwest League home run leader Isan Diaz—is the shortstop Dipoto coveted to team with Robinson Cano. But 2016 represented a bounce-back season for Segura, the key component of the deal that sent Zack Greinke from Milwaukee to the Angels in 2012. In 2014-15, Segura was among the worst offensive players in baseball, posting an OPS plus of 70 and then 68, respectively, those seasons, and walking just 41 times total in those seasons, while striking out 163 times.  Most of Segura’s improvement in 2016, beside playing in Arizona, can be attributed to his turnaround against righthanders. After slashing just .248/.274/.320 in 2015, he hit .333/.380/.521 this season. His average on balls in play soared to .353 from .298 the season before, while his walk rate jumped and strikeout percentage fell. As would be expected in a season like he had, all of Segura’s metrics improved: his hard-hit rate shot up to 29.7 percent from 19.7 percent the year before; line drive rate rose, while ground ball rate fell, and his home run-to-fly ball ratio more than doubled. He played second base a majority of the time in 2016 because of the defensively superior Nick Ahmed, but is expected to slide back to short in Seattle.

— Vince Lara-Cinisomo

 Arizona (NL) .319 .368 .499 637 102 203 41 7  20 64  39 101 33

Zac Curtis, lhp
Age: 24

A sixth-round pick of the Diamondbacks in 2014 out of Middle Tennessee State, Curtis ranked second in the nation that spring in strikeouts, but at 5-foot-9 profiles better as a reliever. His fastball sits 90-92 in shorter stints and he also works in a hard slider. Curtis will join recent acquisition James Pazos and Paul Fry in battling for a role as a second lefthander in the Mariners’ bullpen, along with Ariel Miranda. But like Pazos, Curtis’ walk rate is a concern. (VLC)

Club (League) Class W L ERA G SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
Visalia (CAL) HiA 1 0 5.23 8 2 10 12 8 6 0 5 22 .279
Arizona (NL) MAJ 0 1 6.75 21 0 13 13 10 10 2 13 10 .255
Mobile (SL) AA 0 1 3.20 19 4 20 17 7 7 3 6 30 .227

Mitch Haniger, of
Age: 25

Haniger, a supplemental first-round pick of the Brewers in 2012 who was sent with Anthony Banda to Arizona at the non-waiver trade deadline in 2014 for Gerardo Parra, had a breakthrough season in 2016. Haniger found success after making changes to his swing mechanics in 2015 and continued the overhaul in the offseason. He said he modeled his swing in part after Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock. (VLC)

Club (League) Class AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
Mobile (SL) AA .294 55 197 21 58 14 2 5 30 30 37 4 .407 .462
Reno (PCL) AAA .341 74 261 58 89 20 3 20 64 39 62 8 .428 .670
Arizona (NL) MAJ .229 34 109 9 25 2 1 5 17 12 27 0 .309 .404

Taijuan Walker, rhp
Age: 24

Walker was a perennial top prospect who cracked the majors at 21 but has never quite lived up to his pedigree, largely because of inconsistent command. While he walked only 2.5 batters per nine innings last year, for example, he averaged more than 17 pitches per inning, limiting his ability to get deep into starts. Overall Walker is just 22-22, 4.18 in his career despite pitching his home games in pitcher-friendly Safeco Field. The 43rd overall pick in 2010 features a 94-97 mph fastball, 88-92 splitter and 77-81 curveball primarily. His 6-foot-4, 235-pound frame, athleticism and quality of stuff is enticing, and he still is young enough to grow into the frontline starter he was projected to be. At the same time, moving to hitter-friendly Arizona will be a challenge for the young righthander. 

— Kyle Glaser

Club (League) Class W L ERA G GS IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
Tacoma (PCL) AAA 1 0 3.60 3 3 15 12 6 6 1 8 6 .211
Seattle (AL) MAJ 8 11 4.22 25 25 134 129 75 63 27 37 119 .247

Ketel Marte, ss
Age: 23

Marte looked like the Mariners shortstop of the future when he reached the majors in 2015 and hit .283/.351/.402 in 57 games, but took such a significant step back in 2016 the Mariners actively sought to replace him at the trade deadline. Marte has little in the way of power and he is only a moderate base-stealing threat, putting the pressure on him to make consistent contact and play reliable defense in order to provide much in the way of value. He did neither last year, hitting .259 with 84 strikeouts against 18 walks and committing 21 errors at shortstop. Marte is young and was productive in recent memory, and a fresh start in an offensively-friendly environment could provide the foundation for a bounce-back campaign.

— Kyle Glaser

Club (League) Class AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
Everett (NWL) SS .333 2 6 1 2 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 .429 1.000
Tacoma (PCL) AAA .214 7 28 5 6 2 0 0 2 2 1 2 .258 .286
Seattle (AL) MAJ .259 119 437 55 113 21 2 1 33 18 84 11 .287 .323

Comments are closed.

Download our app

Read the newest magazine issue right on your phone