New Arizona Diamondbacks’ general manager Mike Hazen pulled off his first trade on Wednesday, adding two young players with tremendous upside in starting pitcher Taijuan Walker and shortstop Ketel Marte from the Seattle Mariners for shortstop Jean Segura and prospect outfielder Mitch Haniger and prospect lefty pitcher Zac Curtis. To make room on their 40-man roster, the Mariners designated switch-pitcher Pat Venditte for assignment.

At one time, the 24-year-old Walker was considered the top pitching prospect in baseball, with his name being brought up in potential blockbuster deals, including a 2014 deal involving David Price. But his big league career has not lived up to the hype thus far, as he currently sports a 22-22 record through 65 appearances (62 starts) over parts of four seasons, pitching to a 4.18 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, with 322 strikeouts in 357 innings. This could mean that the Diamondbacks will look back at this deal as an ultimate ‘buy low’ on a player who still has a world of potential and may be entering the prime of his career, and one who is under team control until after the 2020 season. He figures to slot in as the number four starter in a D’Backs rotation that is lead by Zach Greinke, Patrick Corbin, and Shelby Miller, who is hoping to bounce back from a terrible 2015 season.

Marte figures to take over from Segura as the D’Backs starting shortstop. At the age of 23, he has been in the majors for the last two seasons and has plenty of room to grow. He struggled both offensively and defensively in 2016, and his bat may still be behind Segura’s, but he was always considered more of a defense-first player during his minor league career. If he can continue his development, and leaving the cavernous Safeco Field should help, he has the potential to be Arizona’s starting shortstop for years to come.

From the Mariners’ side, this deal hinges on whether Segura’s lofty 2016 season is his new norm. Segura was acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers by Arizona this time last year, and he delivered the best season of his career, hitting .319 with 20 home runs and adding 33 stolen bases, topping 200 hits for the first time in his career. Segura’s previous history is erratic, however — he failed to clear a .300 OBP in either 2014 or 2015 with the Brewers. Some of Segura’s struggles might have been related to the tragic death of his infant son in the middle of the 2014 season, but his difficulties on the field are still worth considering. Also, unlike Marte (who is controllable for five more years), Segura only has two years of control remaining before he’s eligible for free agency.

The 25-year-old Haniger made his big-league debut in 2016 and batted a modest .229/.309/.404 in 123 plate appearances. He did, however, grade well defensively in a small sample, and he batted an excellent .341/.428/.670 in 312 plate appearances at Triple-A Reno, demonstrating outstanding power (with 20 home runs, albeit in a favorite hitting environment) and good plate discipline. Nonetheless, he was not particularly highly regarded — ranked him just 21st among Diamondbacks prospects, noting the likelihood that he would wind up as a good fourth outfielder, and Baseball America didn’t even mention him in their midseason writeup on the Diamondbacks system. Still, he wouldn’t be the first young player with excellent minor league numbers to go underrated by prospect hounds, and he could contribute to a thin Mariners’ outfield immediately (likely mostly as a corner outfielder, since the M’s have Leonys Martin to man center). The Diamondbacks initially acquired him in 2014 when they traded Gerardo Parra to the Brewers.

Curtis has the lowest profile of any of the five players in the deal, but he’s an interesting fifth piece. He was pitching for Class A+ Visalia in 2016 when he got promoted all the way to the big leagues, thanks to a stat line that included 22 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he didn’t fare well there, posting a 6.75 ERA, 6.8 K/9 and 8.8 BB/9 in 13 1/3 innings, but he got significantly better results after heading back to Double-A Mobile and might eventually reemerge as a good bullpen arm once he has more seasoning. He’s undersized at 5’9 and averaged a relatively modest 90.9 MPH on his fastball in the big leagues, though, so he probably doesn’t profile as a future power reliever.

On paper, the Diamondbacks would seem to be the early winner of this deal, as they get a highly regarded young arm who stands to only get better as he gains more big league experience, plus a major league caliber short stop who can play the position well, with both players under team control for years to come, and they got them at the cost of Segura, who they just acquired last year, and two players who didn’t figure into their immediate plans. Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto got the player he wanted in the end, but for Mike Hazen, this was a positive first step in the right direction.

Related Posts:




You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment