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What Jean Segura’s Deal Means For the Mariners

The M’s get a steal, and Jerry Dipoto’s plan becomes clear.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday’s 12-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins would have been plenty of good news for Mariners fans. The team stands just a game under .500 and well within striking distance in the AL Wild Card standings.

But the cherry on top actually came less than an hour before the game started, when news broke that Jean Segura was nearing a contract extension with the team. Staff writer John Trupin and I had been discussing what a deal for Segura would look like just minutes before Jon Morosi’s initial reports of such a contract.

Needless to say, we were both pleasantly surprised - if not downright ecstatic - after discovering the terms: five years, $70 million, with a club option for a sixth year. Though the yearly breakdown hasn’t come out yet, the first year of the deal was also Segura’s final arbitration-eligible season, and that salary would likely come in around $10 million. So think of this deal as 4 years, $60 million.

Now, the general consensus is that the Mariners got a pretty good deal out of this. For his age 29-32 seasons, the M’s are paying an average of $15 million per year, which would be expected to buy you ~2 WAR on the free agent market. Segura was worth 5 fWAR last year and has been worth 1.4 fWAR in only 43 games so far this year. Sure, there are concerns - he hasn’t been a star for a crazy long period of time, and his BABIP is unsustainable - but his true talent indicates he’s better than this contract.

Why did he sign it, then? A couple reasons. For starters, his close personal friendship with Robinson Canó. There are numerous examples of their tight bond, and it’s clear that Robbie is a hugely valuable recruiting chip and teammate. He’s also guaranteeing himself more money than one can spend in a lifetime despite a fairly short track record. And, finally, Jon Heyman reported that Segura gets a full no-trade clause as part of the deal.

In case the extension wasn’t enough to convince you of Jerry Dipoto’s commitment to the current core, let this no-trade clause serve as that reminder. Just over a week ago, the Mariners were in serious trouble at 21-29, and the two most obvious trade chips on the roster were Nelson Cruz and Jean Segura. Now that Segura isn’t going anywhere, the M’s are all-in this year and next year.

And even if the Mariners struggle in 2019 and beyond, Segura’s contract will look quite reasonable. Josh Reddick just signed a four-year deal for $52 million (covering his age 30-33 seasons), and he’s averaged 2.3 fWAR per year from 2014 to 2016. Segura seems on pace to easily pass that; so long as he can stay at shortstop, the Mariners have a real bargain.

Longer-term, this deal still makes a lot of sense. The M’s have lots of money coming off the books in the next few years: Nelson Cruz, as godly as he is, will be a free agent after 2018. Hisashi Iwakuma and Yovani Gallardo are going to be out in the next few years (depending on if the M’s pick up club options) - I’d go so far as to say both will be on the street next year, freeing up $25 million in 2018. And mid-range deals to players like Steve Cishek, Danny Valencia, and Marc Rzepczynski will also be gone in the near future.

In fact, only four players have any guaranteed money in 2019 or beyond: Felix, Robbie, Kyle Seager, and now Jean Segura. Though the first two players will likely be on the downswing of their careers, the Segura deal doesn’t change that, and both Seager & Segura should still be in their primes (or at least close to them) at this point.

Mariners Contracts Beyond 2019

Player 2019 2020 2021 2022
Player 2019 2020 2021 2022
Felix Hernandez $27,857,143.00
Robinson Cano $24,000,000.00 $24,000,000.00 $24,000,000.00 $24,000,000.00
Kyle Seager $19,500,000.00 $19,500,000.00 $18,500,000.00 *Team option
Jean Segura $15,000,000.00 $15,000,000.00 $15,000,000.00 $15,000,000.00
TOTAL $86,357,143.00 $58,500,000.00 $57,500,000.00 $39,000,000.00

The team comes together around these guys pretty naturally. James Paxton is under club control through 2020, and Ariel Miranda is under control through at least 2022 (as is Edwin Diaz). Dipoto has added a multitude of acceptable arms who can glom together to (hopefully) create a serviceable bullpen. And the M’s can use their extra money on starters.

John’s point about the outfield is valuable - if the FO thinks that these guys can combine to be an above-average outfield for years to come, and most of the infield is set with Seager/Segura/Canó, the Mariners could be set.

There are still obvious holes in this team. And there’s no guarantee that the M’s can, or will, be a winner. But it’s easy to see where Jerry Dipoto & Co. are coming from, and the blueprint has been established. Now it’s time to play the games.

All financial information is from Cot’s Baseball Contracts.