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Brewers Trade Assets: Jean Segura

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The young shortstop could be pushed out of Milwaukee by the impeding arrival of one of the game's top prospects in Orlando Arcia.

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Jean Segura began his career in the Los Angeles Angels' organization, signed as international free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2007. A second baseman and shortstop, Segura quickly began rising up the Angels' top prospect charts with his terrific contact ability and blazing speed on the base paths and in the field. He played six seasons in the minor leagues and hit .313/.367/.439 with 120 extra base hits in 399 games. He stole as many as 50 bases in a season and displayed a strong arm that played well enough for shortstop, and was ranked as a top 100 prospect in 2011 and 2012 by both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus.

Segura skipped AAA completely and made his big league debut at age 22 with the Angels on July 24, 2012, going 0-3 with two strikeouts against the Kansas City Royals. Three days later, he was dealt to Milwaukee as a part of the package that brought Zack Greinke to Anaheim for half a season before Greinke hit free agency. Segura was called up to the Brewers on August 6th and installed as the club's regular shortstop for the remainder of the season.

Jean hit .258/315/.325 in 44 games through the end of the 2012 season, enough only for a meager 68 wRC+ and a below replacement level -0.2 fWAR. It was apparently enough to earn Segura the Brewers' everyday role at shortstop heading into the 2013 season, and the youngster immediately began to deliver on the immense promise that he held when he first arrived in Milwaukee. He tore through the National League to the tune of a 325/.363/.487 line (133 wRC+) with 11 home runs and 27 stolen bases in 92 first half games that season and earned his first All-Star nod.

Segura couldn't keep up that frenetic pace, however, and faded to an (albeit still terrific) .294/.329/.423 line by the end of the season. He slapped 173 hits (8th in the NL), stole 44 bases (2nd), had a 105 wRC+, and was valued at 3.5 fWAR. GM Doug Melvin thought he'd found his shortstop of the future and offered Segura a 6 year, $38 mil contract extension during Spring Training of 2014. The 24 year old bet on himself and declined the extension, looking to prove that he could consistently be the player that he was in the first half of 2013.

In retrospect, it appears lucky for Milwaukee that Segura declined the Brewers' extension overtures. He has yet to recapture the spectacular form he briefly teased us with. In 1367 plate appearances since the 2013 All-Star game, Segura has batted just .250/.282/.328 with 12 home runs and 62 stolen bases. His 63 wRC+ during that time is not only well below league average, it's poor even when considering how generally awful the shortstop position is offensively league-wide (average 85 wRC+ in 2015). He's posted a combined 0.2 fWAR across 2014-15.

Segura hits an overwhelming amount of balls on the ground, 59.4% over his big league career, which significantly limits his power. He's posted just a 21.5% hard-hit rate over the past two seasons as well. Segura is still young (26 next season), however, and his bat was highly rated throughout his time in the minor leagues. He implemented some swing changes last season and saw a significant change in his batted ball distribution, using the whole field much better after becoming pull-happy in 2014. He doesn't and probably never will walk much but he also rarely strikes out. There's still a chance he could become something close to a .280/.320/.400 hitter at the big league level with the right coaching. He has also continued to put up solid base running marks and remains a 25+ stolen base threat.

For all his offensive struggles, Segura is at the very least a competent defender at shortstop. He displays good range and a strong arm, and has been valued anywhere from above average (+1 Defensive Runs Saved) to elite (+54.8 Fielding Runs Above Average) throughout his career. Segura actually played most of his minor league games at second base and could very easily handle that position defensively, though he's never appeared there at the major league level. The only problem with moving Seggy to second base is the fact that the current incarnation of his bat would play even worse everyday at the keystone than it does at short.

Segura has accrued 3.065 years of service time to this point in his career and will be arbitration eligible for the first time this winter. He's projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn $3.2 mil next season. The Brewers currently have a wealth of talented depth at shortstop, including one of the game's top prospects in Orlando Arcia, who is likely ticketed for AAA to start 2016. With Jonathan Villar and Yadiel Rivera present and capable of handling the position until Arcia arrives, it's plausible that Segura could be deemed expendable and shopped around this winter.

Any club that acquired Segura would have control of him for the next three seasons through arbitration before he hits free agency following the 2018 season. Possible fits could include clubs that might be in need of a defensive upgrade at shortstop, like the Mets or the Padres. If there is interest in him as a second baseman, a partner could potentially be found in DC, Arizona, Kansas City, or perhaps even Philadelphia. Given his relative youth and inexpensive control over the next several seasons, Segura could conceivably make sense for a rebuilding club or a contender.

Segura probably doesn't have a ton of trade value right now and might even be seen as an upside play by some interested teams, but he should still be able to bring back at least a 50 grade prospect plus a secondary piece in return. At the very least he's a steady defensive shortstop or second baseman and a speedster, and he might still have the potential to be close to a league-average bat with a little bit of work.

Slingin' David Stearns has already shown a willingness to realign his assets and trade from positions of depth, and there have already been rumblings that the Brewers are planning on moving their incumbent starting shortstop this winter. Though some might consider trading Jean Segura to be "selling low" at this point in his career, I'd say there's only about a 50/50 chance that he begins next season in a Brewers' uniform.