In a major Thanksgiving eve swap, the Seattle Mariners dealt pitcher Taijuan Walker and shortstop Ketel Marte to the Arizona Diamondbacks for shortstop Jean Segura, outfielder Mitch Haniger, and pitcher Zac Curtis, Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan first reported. The swap has since been confirmed by both teams.
This trade marks the first significant move under new general manager Mike Hazen’s regime in Arizona. The major return for the D’Backs is former top-10 prospect Walker, who brings his blazing fastball to the desert. Still just 24-years-old, Walker is yet to put together a full season reflective of his talent. While battling a foot injury last season, the former first-round pick went 8-11 with a 4.22 ERA over 134-and-one-third innings (4.99 FIP). For his career, Walker sports an even 22-22 record with a 4.18 ERA, 2.5 BB/9, and 8.1 K/9 (4.30 FIP).
Walker saw a slight velocity decrease on his fastball in 2016 as he registered the lowest mph (93.9) of his brief career. The California native is arbitration-eligible for the first time this year and is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to make $2.8 million next season. He joins a rotation that includes Patrick Corbin, Zack Greinke, Shelby Miller, Robbie Ray, Rubby De La Rosa, Archie Bradley, and Braden Shipley.
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) November 24, 2016
Arizona also acquires Marte, a 23-year-old shortstop with 713 major league plate appearances under his belt. He slashed a below average.259/.287/.323 with one home run and 33 runs batted (66 wRC+) last season in 119 games. While Marte’s poor offense and defense registered a negative Wins Above Replacement (WAR) total (-0.7), his Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) in 2016 was a promising.313 — showing that if he makes contact, he can be successful.
“Young, controllable pitching is hard to find, and adding Taijuan to the rotation gives us significant depth in that area,” Hazen said in a statement. “In Ketel, we believe we have acquired a talented switch-hitting shortstop to join a very solid core of young middle infielders.”
After years of a revolving door at shortstop, the Mariners now boast a player who led all MLB shortstops in batting average (.319), hits (203), and doubles (41) last season. All told, coming off two subpar seasons — in which he failed to eclipse a.300 on-base percentage — with the Milwaukee Brewers, Segura slashed.319/.368/.499 with 20 HRs, 64 RBIs, and 33 stolen bases (126 wRC+).
— Mariners (@Mariners) November 24, 2016
Segura’s 2016 wasn’t just productive, it was historic as his combination of 20+ HRs, 30+ SBs, 40+ 2Bs, 100+ runs, 200+ hits, and a.300+ average has only been done five times since the start of 2000. Outside of his All-Star 2013 campaign, Segura never registered a WAR above 0.3 and in 2016, he posted a career-high 5.0 in that department.
The Dominican Republic native enters Seattle with two years of team control and is expected to make $7.3 million in his second stint through arbitration.
Seattle also acquires Haniger, 25, who made his MLB debut last season. In 34 games, he slashed.229/.309/.404 with five homers and 17 RBIs. However, in 74 Triple-A contests, Haniger slashed.341/.428/.670 with 20 HRs but was ranked just 21st among all Arizona prospects.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) November 24, 2016
“We see Mitch Haniger as a high-ceiling prospect who projects to join our outfield as soon as next season,” Mariners GM Dipoto said. In a tweet, Haniger said, “Can’t wait for spring already! Let’s go
@Mariners Pumped to be a part of such a great organization!”
The last piece of the deal is Curtis, a 24-year-old lefty who made an unusual MLB debut; he was promoted from Class A+ to the majors where he struggled in 13-and-one-third innings. While the 5-foot-9 reliever doesn’t throw hard (90.9 mph on his fastball), he did settle down in the minors to post a 3.90 ERA in 27 games.
“Zac Curtis’ track record in the minors gives us great confidence in his future as a big league pitcher,” Dipoto said.
To make room on the roster, the Mariners designated switch-pitcher Pat Venditte for assignment. The 31-year-old made 15 MLB appearances for Seattle and Oakland in 2016, pitching to a 5.73 ERA.
[Featured Image by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images]