The Marlins and infielder Jean Segura reached an agreement yesterday on a two-year deal with a club option for 2025. Since Segura has primarily played second base over the past three seasons, it was speculated that the club might be planning to move Jazz Chisholm Jr. from second to short, thus moving shortstop Miguel Rojas to the bench or the trading block. However, Jim Bowden of The Athletic relays word from manager Skip Schumaker that the plan is to play Segura at third base, something that had also been suggested by Craig Mish of The Miami Herald earlier today.
Segura began his major league career as a shortstop, playing exclusively at that position in the 2012-2015 seasons. In 2016, the Diamondbacks acquired Segura from the Brewers and moved him over to regular second base duty, with Nick Ahmed the primary shortstop in Arizona. After one season with the Snakes, Segura was then traded to the Mariners, who moved him back to shortstop for 2017 and 2018, the only position he played for those two seasons. A trade to the Phillies led to one more season of exclusively playing shortstop in 2019.
The Phillies signed Didi Gregorius to be their primary shortstop going into 2020 and bumped Segura off regular duty there. He’s only logged 17 1/3 innings at short over the last three seasons. In 2020, he split his time almost evenly between second and third, with 239 1/3 innings at the keystone and 179 2/3 innings at the hot corner. That is the extent of his third base experience to date, as he spent almost all of 2021 and 2022 at second.
There’s certainly risk here for the Marlins in playing Segura at a position where he has so little experience. He’s generally been as an above-average defensive second baseman in his time there and moving him somewhere new raises the possibility that he’s not as valuable with the glove. In that brief spell at third in 2020, Segura got positive reviews from advanced defensive metrics, but in a small sample size that’s hard to draw meaningful conclusions from. In terms of arm strength, it would appear Segura won’t have a problem with the move. His throws averaged 86.5 mph in 2022, second among second baseman with only Romy González ahead of him. If he could make the throws from third with the same kind of velocity, he would have ranked 11th on the third base arm strength list.
While it’s a bit of a gamble moving Segura around, it’s understandable why they would want a stable veteran presence there. Brian Anderson had moved between third and the outfield for many years but seemed to lock down the hot corner in 2020, starting 55 of the club’s 60 games in the shortened season. However, injuries limited his workload and performance in the two seasons since, leading the club to use a hodgepodge of utility players at the position. In 2022, each of Anderson, Joey Wendle and Jon Berti made at least 34 starts at third, with youngsters Jordan Groshans and Charles Leblanc getting 17 and 13, respectively. Another handful of players got smaller tries at the position, with Luke Williams, Willians Astudillo, Erik González and Joe Dunand each getting at least one start.
As a season goes along, injuries will force any club to deviate from their plans, but it seems the club hopes to have Chisholm, Rojas and Segura lined up next to each other as much as possible. Segura’s ability to play second base also gives the club cover if Chisholm deals with injuries again in 2023, as a stress fracture in his back kept him from appearing after late June of 2022. He also underwent surgery on a torn right meniscus in September. Though he’s expected to be ready for Spring Training, Segura gives them a way to pivot in the event of some kind of setback or recurrence.
Of course, it’s always possible that the Marlins are indeed shopping Rojas as some have speculated and this talk of Segura taking over third base is merely bluster those talks progress. But on the surface, it seems like utility players like Wendle and Berti, as well as the young Groshans, currently have a less clear path to playing time. It has recently been reported that the Red Sox have discussed both Wendle and Rojas in trade talks with the Marlins, and it’s possible those conversations are revisited now that Miami has added Segura into the mix, which could change Miami’s plans if a deal comes together.