MLB 2K13: Should the Brewers pursue an extension for SS Segura, or are they better off waiting?
It didn’t take long for the Milwaukee Brewers to want to extend shortstop Jean Segura, potentially buying out his arbitration years. In exchange for a potential discount, the Brewers expect a team-friendly deal.
Everyone sort of wins. Segura’s just 23, and at the rate he’s going, could end up costing Milwaukee a ton of cabbage and 800 trucks of beer before going into free agency.
But is it necessary?
Segura’s currently tearing up Major League pitching. He leads the National League with a .368 batting average and 50 hits. His legs are dandy too, with a MLB-leading 13 stolen bases as of Tuesday.
His slashes are impressive: .426 wOBA / .412 OBP / .588 SLG. On surface he exemplifies the type of player the Brewers tend to hoard of late, going after athletic two-way types who can field, run and hit for power. Segura looks closely like Carlos Gomez in that they have the same modest expectations, but are currently overplaying those at an all star level.
We simply don’t know if Segura’s this type of hitter, or if he’s going through a hot start amplified by gaudy slashes and raw numbers. While we know he can defend and run, there’s a bunch of middle infielders who can do the same.
The motivations are quite simple. As a shortstop who may have the ability to hit at an above average level, Segura is particularly enticing to a small-market team, especially when it can gain such an advantage over a traditionally weak-hitting position.
Here’s some telling signs through 35 games:
- Segura has 14 infield hits, contributing to his high batting average.
- High BABIPs typically reveal how much of a factor luck has on a hitter’s slash lines. It could also show that a hitter is particularly hitting the ball hard. Segura’s .398 BABIP is more in line with luck, because of the high amount of grounders he hits.
And then there’s his 18 percent HR/FB rate that really guys, isn’t all that sustainable either.
- His six home runs is quantitatively justified by his .221 Isolated Power. The only time he had as high an ISO was through eight games of rookie ball. Otherwise, including his minor league years, Segura has hit for a .139 ISO, more in line with a slap hitting shortstop’s lines than that of the next Cal Ripken’s.
- He scores especially high against fastball, sliders and cutters, producing plus run differentials on all three at the Major League level. This could reveal a necessary skill — catching up to a big league fastball, and adjusting for and recognizing breaking pitches. It doesn’t say whether he’ll be that effective against those three common pitches through a full season.
The key for Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin is to find out where to peg Segura’s value after his hot stretch has ended. Because it will. He won’t hit like this forever, but he could be a high batting average, contact hitter who doesn’t strike out much, but who doesn’t walk either. The power looks promising, and it could be sustainable, especially as Segura ages.
In the meantime, manager Ron Roenicke has a good everyday shortstop with some pop and speed. Because that skills set doesn’t age well, paying him now makes more sense than rewarding him later. Buying out arbitration years is a margin of error even the Brewers can afford.
Extensions well ahead of arbitration years typically don’t involve a lot of money. At most, Segura’s in line to receive something along the lines of what third baseman Evan Longoria received from the Tampa Bay Rays the first time, and what catcher Salvador Perez got from the Kansas City Royals last year.