While millions of people across the country were out celebrating on the night before Thanksgiving, the Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks were on the phone finalizing a trade. The deal in place sends Taijuan Walker and Ketel Marte to the Diamondbacks for Jean Segura, Mitch Haniger and Zac Curtis.
Wow, was my first reaction, seeing that that was all it took to get Walker.
But, since this is a Fantasy site, let’s take a look at what it means for their respective 2017 Fantasy values.
Walker has been a popular breakout candidate for the past couple of seasons. During that stretch, he has shown signs of breaking out, but has had just as many bad stretches. In his first full season in 2015, after losing his rookie status in the second half of 2014, Walker pitched to a 4.56 ERA. However, that 4.56 was much improved from the 7.33 ERA that he had after his first nine starts in the league.
Walker struggled with location during those first nine starts, allowing 21 walks in them, including four games with four walks. He regained control, as he allowed a total of just four walks over his next 10 starts.
Walker’s 2015 finish had him poised as a breakout once again in 2016, and he lived up to the billing early on, but a foot injury in June hampered his season, and he lost his effectiveness.
Here are his results month by month:
April: 1.44 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 9 K/9
May: 4.91 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 7.7 K/9
June: 3.25 ERA, 1.2 WHIP, 8.1 K/9
July: 11.25 ERA, 1.5 WHIP, 11.3 K/9 (one start)
August: 6.88 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 4.2 K/9
September/October: 4.31 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 8.9 K/9
In his own right, as a third-year breakout player, Walker would have been a sleeper again this year. Will the move to the National League help or hurt his case?
On the one hand, anytime a pitcher moves to the NL, it gives them a boost with the ability to face the pitcher in the lineup. If I’m drafting and I’m using a tiebreaker with an AL or NL guy, I’m going with the NL guy for that reason.
But, then we take a look at ballpark factors. Chase Field, Walker’s new home, was second only to Coors Field in runs per game last season and second only to Yankee Stadium for home runs per game. Walker’s old park, Safeco Field, was 20th in runs per game and sixth in home runs per game. What benefits Walker, though, is that while he’s close to a split pitcher, he’s was more of a groundball pitcher in 2016.
Looking deeper, the Diamondbacks had a league-worst .320 BABIP allowed a season ago, to go along with a 68.7 percent strand rate, which was 28th last season.
Segura, who had a -1.5 UZR, committing nine errors on the season with a .985 fielding percentage, was actually an upgrade defensively over Marte, who had 21 errors, a .956 fielding percentage and a -10.3 UZR.
For Walker’s value, it’s basically a wash. Ballpark factor and the defense behind him hurts him, but the move to the NL and the third-year breakout potential is still in his favor.
For Segura, I’m going to be the low man on him this year. He’s my 12th ranked second baseman, and most of that has to do with not buying his power outbreak from a season ago. Granted, everyone was hitting home runs last season, so I’m expected a league-wide regression to take place.
Segura’s home run to fly ball ratio was at 13.5 percent, which was a career-high. Also up was his hard-hit rate from 19.7 percent to 29.7 percent in one year.
If the numbers do carry over, though, here’s how his 2016 home runs would have translated at Safeco Field.
The one thing I do buy and always have with Segura is his elite speed. He had 33 steals in 43 attempts last season, but I have to wonder if he will still have as many stolen base opportunities in Seattle. As a team last year, the Diamondbacks had the third-most steals with 137 steals in 168 attempts. The Mariners, on the other hand had just 56 steals in 84 attempts.
As the new leadoff guy for the Mariners, you’d have to think the biggest reason to acquire Segura for them was to inject speed into the offense, so I would still project around 30 steals for him in 2017.
Segura also improved in 2016, as he was about even with his pull, opposite field and center percentages at 31.4, 36.3 and 32.3, respectively.
Here’s what Segura’s spray chart would have looked like in Safeco from 2016.
Segura will now shift back to shortstop with Robinson Cano in the fold in Seattle at second. As a Fantasy asset, he loses a little bit of value with switching ballparks, but is still a starting-caliber 2B or SS.
He was hyped as a late-round sleeper heading into the season, and got off to a slow start. He’s a toss-in with the deal, if anything, but he has a chance to produce if he can land a spot at the top of the order for the Diamondbacks. He should be considered as a fringe middle infielder in Fantasy leagues only.