Fantasy Baseball: Trade underscores risk in Jean Segura investment, gives Taijuan Walker new opportunity – CBSSports.com


There’s the blockbuster we’ve been waiting for.

It took until Thanksgiving, but we got our eyebrow-raiser of a deal Wednesday night when the Diamondbacks shipped Jean Segura — better known as the reigning Fantasy MVP, not to mention top shortstop — to the Mariners in a five-player exchange with wide-ranging implications.

Seeing as Arizona has new management in place and not the same that ponied up for Segura last offseason, the subtext to me is clear: get out while you can. Part of the reason Segura was my Fantasy MVP is because nobody saw his 2016 coming, and though the explanation for it (he lowered his hands, simplifying his swing) has some credibility and his track record (both in the minors and the first half of 2013) makes it not completely an isolated event, investing in him, whether in real life or in Fantasy, is a risky proposition.

And sell-high approach may be a self-fulfilling prophecy, in a way, since Segura is going to a much less hitter-friendly environment. Any change of scenery is worrisome for a player with a tenuous grip on greatness, but this one in particular could spell disaster.

Or maybe not. Segura was about as good on the road as at home this year, after all, so maybe I’m giving too much credit to external factors. But it’s a variable he didn’t need, given the existing skepticism, and after seeing him go in Round 4 in each of our first two mock drafts, I’m thinking 5 or 6 is more likely now.

Of course, it’s not like the Diamondbacks just gave him away. In fact, what they got back in terms of upside and years of control has them “winning” the trade on the Twittersphere. But the actual pieces, Taijuan Walker and Ketel Marte, both have damaged reputations, falling short of expectations in every one of their major-league opportunities so far.

Walker has the most to salvage for Fantasy purposes — and you may remember, the one-time elite prospect looked like he had turned the corner when he boasted a 1.97 ERA through six starts this year — but a foot injury and mechanical overhaul derailed his progress. Maybe this trade is his magic elixir, but that’s not something you want to rely on.

And then there’s the matter of what Segura is leaving behind. We know he steps in as the Mariners starting shortstop, but who’s the starting second baseman in Arizona now? Does Chris Owings slide over, freeing up shortstop for Marte? It’s no foregone conclusion after the year Marte just had:

What about Brandon Drury, who homered 16 times in 461 at-bats as a rookie this year? I could stand to see him get more playing time, and I’m not the only one who feels that way. New general manager Mike Hazen said earlier this offseason that he wanted to find the versatile player more at-bats, even at the expense of defense. If that’s not a hint Drury is in the mix at second base, I don’t know what is.

And actually, the path is clearer in the outfield as well. Owings won’t be asked to play there as much, and Mitch Haniger, the late bloomer who impressed with a .325 batting average, 25 home runs and .999 OPS in the minors this year, also went to the Mariners in the deal (where he should have more of an opportunity as well). That’s two competitors eliminated in one fell swoop, leaving only David Peralta, himself recuperating from wrist surgery, blocking Drury from an everyday job. Yeah, Drury will play enough to matter in mixed leagues, even if he’s something less than must-start.

One last aspect to consider with this deal: The Mariners have an opening in their starting rotation now. And even though their options to fill it aren’t at all exciting, I do feel like Nathan Karns got a raw deal shifting to the bullpen just a few turns after compiling a 3.43 ERA with a strikeout per inning over his first 10 starts this year. No one would mistake him for a Cy Young contender, but in a diluted pitcher landscape, a 1.30 WHIP with a competent K rate has value over enough innings. Karns to me profiles as that kind of pitcher.

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