When Jean Segura was traded as part of a package to land Zack Greinke last season, fans of both sides seemed to be pleased with the deal. Angels fans were excited over the prospect of having Weaver and Greinke in the same rotation and Brewers fans liked the idea that they had found a possible long-term solution at shortstop. That’s when everything went right for the Brewers, and everything seemingly went wrong for the Angels.
The Angels had just recently signed Erick Aybar to an extension and were unwilling to gamble on Segura as their future shortstop. They had however gambled on Greinke’s willingness to sign a long-term deal with the Angels, which never came to fruition and culminated in him signing with their cross-town rivals the Dodgers. Meanwhile, Segura continued to grow as a player in his stint in the major leagues last season and during winter ball. Now, Segura is proving to be one of the most dynamic players in the game.
I recently spoke with a representative of the Dodgers organization who explained the folly in trading Jean Segura and how it will serve as notice to other teams with high profile shortstop prospects. This story actually begins with another shortstop named Alcides Escobar, currently with the Kansas City Royals. Escobar came up as a shortstop in the Brewers organization, and much like Segura, was part of a package to bring in Zack Greinke. The Brewers didn’t necessarily regret this decision, however, they were not able to envision Escobar making the adjustments he’s made and becoming a potential .300 hitting, Gold Glove caliber shortstop that swipes 30 bases as he’s done with the Royals. In the same respect, the Angels failed to properly evaluate Jean Segura.
This specific Dodgers representative stated the folly of scouts was to blame for this inability. When Segura was coming up in the Dominican Republic, he already had the tools to be a shortstop, but the Angels forced him to second base to fit their organizational need. Really, all along Jean Segura was a shortstop, though he never played there until he reached the Cal League. The Dodgers own personal scouting report on Segura suggested that he’d turn into a power hitter with good contact ability that projected on the left side of the infield. They believed his thick, strong legs would eventually serve to slow Segura down, but that he’d still be a rare power-hitting shortstop. Even Angels site scouting reports indicated Segura's All-Star potential. As for the national scouting publications, they took very little notice of Segura in part due to a specific agenda to favor prospects of some organizations and not others, as well as their primary focus being on Mike Trout, and no one else in the Angels organization.
Trout and Segura were actually teammates in A-ball. Trout was a fresh-faced 18-year-old that took the league by storm as a leadoff hitter. Segura was the number three hitter, who took to driving Trout in. Folks became so focused on Trout and his combined 56 steals and .341 batting average that they forgot to notice that Segura too had swiped 50 bases and was hitting .313. Understandably so, just about anyone can be overlooked in Trout’s shadow. Once Segura had reached AA, Trout had already turned into an MVP candidate in the majors, yet the Angels own minor league scouting again served to fail them. It became apparent that despite the good, but not great, numbers Segura posted in AA, the Angels had to have lost sight of the bigger picture, that Segura was still making his adjustments, that Segura’s upside and potential hadn’t had their chance to play out yet. He was just becoming comfortable. It’s no surprise that the second time Segura has seen major league pitching, he’s found his comfort zone and we’re seeing his potential shine through.
So how does this affect the rest of Major League Baseball? This Dodgers representative stated specifically, “Other teams will take notice because this is what happens when you trade away young talented shortstops. Your Jurickson Profars and Francisco Lindors are going to stay put despite possibly being blocked for the specific reason that they shouldn’t be used as currency”. Notice that the Texas Rangers have said time and again that Profar is unavailable via trade, even though he’s currently blocked by Elvis Andrus. This is likely the smart move. Profar is still only 20-years-old and the smart money says that at some point, a spot is going to open up for him with the Rangers, even if his current callup to the majors is just to fill a roster spot for now. The precedent being set right now with guys like Jean Segura being dealt and seeing success is that smart teams will now avoid trading away prospects with as high of upside as Segura that are close to the major leagues. This makes the Royals decision to part ways with Wil Myers this offseason all the interesting and, if you're a Royals fan currently watching Jeff Francoeur take awful at bat after awful at bat, maddening.