Zack Greinke’s Strange Brew: Prospect Package

The Milwaukee Brewers finally pulled the trigger on the trade that everyone was expecting: The team traded starting pitcher Zack Greinke. In return, the Los Angeles Angels sent a three-prospect package, which middle infielder Jean Segura headlined.

Segura, 22, was recently promoted to the majors for the first time in his pro career and was one of the Angels’ top prospects — if not their best, with the graduation of MVP candidate Mike Trout — but the system is also among the bottom 10 in baseball (and now possibly is one of the five worst). Milwaukee — another bottom-feeder, in terms of their minor league system — moves up a couple of slots with this deal that also included Double-A pitchers John Hellweg and Ariel Pena.

I won’t dwell too long on Segura because I wrote about him earlier this week when the Angels recalled him. The infielder played decent ball in Double-A (114 wRC+) prior to his promotion after missing a good portion of 2011 due to injury. His game is tied around his speed, but he also hits for a decent average and has suprising gap power for his size.

He played a lot of shortstop this year but is probably a long-term second baseman where his play is above-average, as opposed to his average defense at his current position. Even if he struggles a bit during his rookie year, Segura should be a significant upgrade over Cesar Izturis and Cody Ransom (both of whom are filling in for the injured Alex Gonzalez who is on the 60-day DL and a free agent at the end of the year).

I ranked Segura as the fourth-best Angels prospect entering 2012 in part because he was coming off an injury and also because he had played little shortstop at that time. His value has increased since that time when he snuck onto the back end of my Top 100 prospects list at No. 91.

Hellweg is the second most value prospect obtained in the deal. The right-handed hurler stands 6’9” and has the high heat to match – pitching in the mid-to-upper 90s. He also shows a wipeout slider at times. Hellweg has done a much better job of inducing ground-ball outs during his past two seasons after being more of a fly-ball pitcher earlier in his career. The knock on the 22-year-old is his lack of command and control. He struggles to spot his fastball and he’s also wild at times; he’s walked 60 batters in 119 innings so far this year.

Hellweg is still a long way away from realizing his full potential and he needs to develop his changeup if he wants to realize his ceiling of a No. 2 starter. At worst, though, he possesses intrigue as a high-leverage reliever with his dynamic combination of the fastball and slider. Prior to the 2012 season, I ranked Hellweg as the Angels’ sixth-best prospect. He instantly becomes one of the Brewers’ best pitching prospects.

The third player in the deal — and someone who I left off the Angels’ pre-season Top 15 prospect list — is Pena. I’m definitely not as high on him as some prospect analysts. I see him as more of a seventh- or eighth-inning reliever with the potential to spend a little time at the back end of a big-league starting rotation.

The 23-year-old Dominican has a decent fastball that sits between 91 mph and 94 mph, and his slider flashes plus potential at times but is inconsistent. His changeup is rarely used. He has a nifty 2.99 ERA in 114.1 innings but his FIP is a full run higher. His control has been a big issue in the past but Pena’s walk rate has dropped more than one per nine innings in the past year in High-A ball.

Greinke is a free-agent-to-be at the end of the year, but it’s said that the Los Angeles Angels were one of his preferred destinations so the club may have a good shot at signing him at the end of the season (if they have the finances to do it). If he becomes a long-term Angel then this was a fair package. If the club ends up losing him, they will have given up quite a bit for a short-term rental.

If you’re an Angels fan, though, you probably really like the deal; I don’t think the team gave away a player who’s going to end up being a future all-star, although Segura could surprise me.




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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect analysis. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


60 Responses to “Zack Greinke’s Strange Brew: Prospect Package”

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  1. Slats says:

    Dipoto is God and Trout is his prophet.
    Dipoto is God and Trout is his prophet.
    Dipoto is God and Trout is his prophet.

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  2. Jerry Dipoto says:

    F*ck you Texas.

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  3. Mitchell says:

    If the Rangers pull through and win the AL West and the Angels lose the wild card playoff and Greinke packs his bags, I will be so happy. Hahahaha I’m a Rangers fan and loved Albert Pujols, CJ Wilson, and Zack Greinke and all my favorite players sign with my least favorite team in baseball….

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  4. STEALTH says:

    So Mike Olt really was too much to wish for. Darn. Well, hopefully Segura can stick at SS and be a top-of-the-order hitter… urg. Slightly disappointed by the return the Brewers got for Greinke. I guess I haven’t read much about the pitchers until now though.

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    • Bob says:

      You should be very happy with what you got back for a player that was going to walk in 2 months. You got more than a low first round pick in 3 pretty decent players.

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      • majnun says:

        But that was a given. It wasn’t the angels or nothing.

        This is a fine haul though even if it’s not as top heavy as some of the other rumors.

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  5. 28 this year says:

    Shouldn’t whether they get to keep Greinke beyond this year be a factor outside of this deal? I mean, they would have to sign Greinke to a FA deal and the money itself is the cost, not the prospects they gave up. They gave up those prospects strictly for two months and the playoffs with Greinke, beyond this year is outside of the scope of evaluating the deal, right?

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    • Taylor06 says:

      You’re exactly right 28 this year. They payed for 2 months of Greinke. They’re not getting any special discount if they resign him because of this trade.

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    • Dan says:

      One could argue that by actually being on the team for these last 2+ months gives the Angels a sort of ‘inside track’ on signing Greinke to an extension. I’m not sure if I really buy that notion, but I agree with you that the players involved in this deal are completely independent of whether or not he signs. Greinke’s not signing a deal because of what Milwaukee got in the trade, he’s signing because they’ll give him a lot of money.

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      • Paul says:

        This is true, but dependent on the org. Folks who oppose this viewpoint present it as a “hometown discount” scenario, which is not it. If you’re a team looking to acquire star players through FA, the player’s feeling about the org. and city matter. If the player has already been in the org. for a period rather than it being one of five cities he and the wife visit during the FA tour, it could be a big factor, because the money between the last two or three teams is going to be very similar. It’s not that is absolutely must matter, but it could. If I’m the owner or GM of the Angels I take that into account, especially for a dude who is a little outside the box like Greinke.

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    • Weznoth says:

      If he signs an extension then it does matter. Means they got to avoid a bidding war.

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      • Paul says:

        There is negative probability that he signs an extension before the end of the season. That’s not specifically what you stated, but it has been expressed in a lot of places. Greinke might be a bit odd, but he is very, very smart and savvy. So just be happy that you have a Top 5 starter for the playoff run.

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      • chuckb says:

        Avoiding a bidding war doesn’t mean that the team will get a discount. In fact, to avoid a bidding war, and the possibility of not re-signing Greinke, the Angels will have to offer full price.

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      • Sleight of Hand Pro says:

        “negative probability”

        huh?

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      • Baltar says:

        Paul, I find your comment intriguing.
        What is a “negative probability”? Does it involve black holes and time travel?

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      • Dexter Bobo says:

        I believe it involves the use of a literary device known as “hyperbole”, ever heard of it?

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      • Paul says:

        Thanks Dexter Bobo. Apparently somebody tweeted this article out to @ BaseballLiteralists.

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  6. rotofan says:

    Segura as a trade chip I mentioned when you posted about his call-up last week:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/jean-segura-gets-the-call-from-angels/#more-93270

    It will be interesting to see if Segura can stick at SS since the Brewers have a hole there. Or maybe the Brewers will try to shed more contract and trade Weeks.

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    • Bob says:

      Who’s going to want Weeks without the Brewers paying a significant portion of his salary?

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      • Dustin says:

        I would think quite a few teams would actually. You wouldn’t get a whole lot in return though.

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      • Bob says:

        Really? For a guy making $11+ million, has missed significant time with injuries in 7 of 8 seasons, and has a negative war this year? There may be a high revenue team willing to gamble that he returns to his career norms, but I doubt it. There are plenty of younger and cheaper options – just ask Detroit, who was probably the banner carrier for a team that might consider that type of move.

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  7. Jim says:

    I’m a bit surprised Greinke didn’t net a better haul, or at the very least a 4th prospect to go with the unimpressive trio they obtained. It’s not a terrible haul but they should have netted at least a top 30 guy, or at least a significantly better package than Atlanta was gonna give up for Dempster.

    It makes me wonder if Ruben Amaro was offered similar packages before going full throttle to sign Hamels. I’d honestly be pretty pissed if Rube got this type of package for him.

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    • Cidron says:

      rental.. that knocks his trade value down considerably.. if he was under control for some time (and of course, traded) the haul would be far better (not that it is a bad haul for a presumed rental).

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    • Paul says:

      The rental argument does not make sense because an awful lot of folks have expressed that they can’t believe the Angels gave up SO MUCH for a rental.

      I agree with the original sentiment, but Melvin just completely botched this process. First he eliminated some teams from playing by stating that he wanted a SS back (meaning Rangers out because Profar is off limits). Then he said Zack would definitely be traded, and that he had not been talking extension with him. Here’s the thing, sales is lying, plain and simple. If the press asks you if you’ll trade Zack, say the org’s preference is to keep him long term, and the owner is committed to paying Hamels money. And even if you have not actually “talked contract extension” for a while, you should be texting his agent every so often saying something like, “My phone is on 24/7 to talk extension.” Then if you’re not good at lying you can at least say you’ve been in contact about it. And if they say, “You’ll get nothing for him,” you say that you’re definitely going to make a qualifying offer, and if Zack signs somewhere else you’ll get a supp pick, which since there will be very few of them from now on, and there is a cap on bonus dollars, is much more valuable than in the past.

      Teams with star players have all the leverage, the team trying to win the WS will decide if they’re really going for it or not. Yes, turning down a collection of random guys, including a no hit 2B who currently plays SS but who is beloved by a certain writer at BA, is going to get you scolded by some in the media and a certain part of the fanbase. Season ticket holders, on the other hand, like GMs who talk confidently about retaining stars. And a supp. pick in the new environment is more valuable than what they just got back. Hate to see it happen, but Melvin just got rolled because he gave up every single bit of his leverage.

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      • jdbolick says:

        @Paul –
        Describing Segura as a “no hit” second baseman doesn’t exactly help your credibility. We’re talking about a guy with strong contact skills, a career average right around .300, and solid power for a middle infielder.

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      • Kevin says:

        You realize you have to deal with the same 29 GM’s and pretty much same 30 agents for everything and your solution is to run around acting like a used car salesman. You stay classy.

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  8. David Scott says:

    Ervin Santana, so I understand, is in an option year for the Angels in 2013. The Angels may decline him and put his $13 million toward Greinke.

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    • Jason says:

      I’m a Brewers fan, and would’ve loved to see Greinke re-sign. He turned down – at least – 5/$100 mil… Under the circumstances, I think Melvin made out well. I think this makes Angels the team to beat. But it’s going to cost the Angels probably more than what the Giants gave Cain to tie up Greinke. Oh yeah, I haven’t even mentioned the albatross that is Vernon Wells. But if the Angels win it all, who cares

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    • STEALTH says:

      $13 million is way too much to pay Ervin Santana.
      $13 million is far too little to pay Greinke.

      The rotation spot is the only relevant issue when discussing Greinke and Santana, and I’d be extremely surprised if Greinke didn’t resign with LAA.

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  9. richman says:

    Don’t forget they’ll have $30+ million coming off the books this offseason to, most notably with Abreu and Hunter’s contracts up. Haren has a $15.5 million club option, and Ervin has a $13 million club option. Safe to say they won’t be picking up Ervin’s option. Haren…who knows

    they’ll definitely have the money to sign Greinke, just gotta hope they do it before he is officially a UFA and the flood gates open up for every other MLB team

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  10. Angels will sign Greinke. One, they got that $150M TV contract last year, and barely put a nick into that even with their spending during the off-season. Two, their owner is a billionaire who has not been afraid of spending more money to make more money, so signing is a no-brainer and almost assured.

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    • chuckb says:

      If it’s the Angels or the field for Greinke, I’m taking the field.

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    • Dexter Bobo says:

      What is almost assured is that the Dodgers, under their new ownership who are also clearly not afraid to spend money, no longer have Hamels as a potential target, and have thus far yet to land a pitcher at the trade deadline, will also be bidding heavily.

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  11. deadpool says:

    So, now Chicago has to feel sick to their stomach that Dempster vetoed the ATL deal, right? I mean, an MLB ready starter with 2-3 spot in the rotation potential…

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  12. Chickensoup says:

    I was hoping the Brewers would get more but I knew they would not. The unfortunate thing about this trade is that the Crew got maybe relief pitchers and as of right now, bench depth at second base with a possibility of a middling second baseman when Weeks contract is up.

    If I was GM for a week I would be shopping almost everyone else they have except Braun after the season is over. As a Brewers fan this pains me to say it but they hit their peak and are on a downswing and signing vets does literally nothing for them long term because they will be very hard pressed to be competative in the next 3-5 years due to a gutted minor league system. This Greinke deal should have happened months ago when they could have possibly gotten more for it. The only way they are going to compete in the relatively near future is if they do what they did to get in the situation they are in now. low budget team with a stocked farm system and accumulate talent that can be controlled for a longish period of time that can come up within a 2-3 year window together. It’s how small market teams (of which Milwaukee is the smallest) can compete with teams that are in markets 20 times larger than yours.

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    • Chickensoup says:

      before it’s mentioned yes I know he is a SS, but he is likely to play second base unless they want to roll with Gennet

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    • jdbolick says:

      You’re being too pessimistic here. I’m writing off the pitchers as nothing more than future relievers, but Segura is a legitimate long-term starter and with All-Star potential at second base (arguably average to slightly above potential at short given his limited range). Jean isn’t as fast as the steals totals suggest, but he seems to be a very smart ballplayer and definitely has a natural feel for making consistent contact at the plate. For those reasons, I was pretty surprised when the Angels locked up Kendrick and Aybar with expensive extensions. The injury history is a definite concern, but you can’t ask for much more than a close-to-ready, low risk, medium reward hitter with only two months left on Greinke’s contract.

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    • Bob says:

      You confused small market with small revenue. Ownership has indicated that they are comfortable with the payroll. Sustaining a middle of MLB payroll is not a stretch, given that they have been that since Mark A aquired them.

      The hitters are scoring more runs than last season. The starters are preventing runs at approximately the same rate. The bullpen is a lot worse. I think that is the quickest and cheapest of the three to fix, don’t you?

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  13. Chickensoup says:

    I knew he wasn’t going to net more. Getting Profar or Ott was a pipe dream trading him at this point of the season.

    Going into this year a lot of Brewers fans had pretty lofty expectations. They put a lot of trust in guys who outperformed their true talent level and put too much stock in guys like Gamel, Gonzalez, and Ramirez if you ask me. The writing was on the wall months ago, yet Melvin bumbled through the last month or so thinking a terrible bullpen plus a ton of injury combined with a lot of players performing at career norms was going to garner wins.

    Greinke 1-2 months ago yields better players. Greinke near the deadline yields likely bullpen guys in my eyes plus an average defensive shortstop (a sticking point to me, we’ve been poor defensively for ages) who is the “best” prospect on a team that has a lack of talent in the minors.

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    • Baltar says:

      I’m not convinced that the Brewers could have gotten more for Greinke a month or two ago. Most buyers are not ready to deal much before the deadline.
      The rational reason for this is that they could be waiting to see if they are a contender before acting. I suspect that waiting until the deadline is more of an emotional decision, however.

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    • Dexter Bobo says:

      Even an average-ish starting SS under cost control for the next 6 years has huge value to the Brewers who have been playing replacement players there this season and have no one at the position in the minors of any value. Anyone who thought the Brewers were going to get a Profar or Machado for a 2-month rental were delusional from the start. We’re also not talking about 2009 2.00 ERA Cy Young award Zack Greinke. His results over the past two and a half seasons have been less than dominating. As a Brewers fan I am happy with what they got.

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  14. Eric says:

    Is there any doubt that the Angels are the best team in baseball? Mike Trout’s probably the best player in baseball, and Albert Pujols isn’t bad himself. They have talent, depth, a winning attitude, and a great manager.

    The coolest thing about this trade is now it puts pressure on the other AL contenders to step up an make a move. I’m looking for the team to move Ervin Santana while absorbing a chunk of his salary, as part of the package for more relief help. Their playoff rotation of Weaver, Greinke, CJ Wilson, and a resurgent Dan Haren is the envy of every other contender.

    Plus there are big cracks in the armor down in Arlington. What happens in the clubhouse if they don’t sign Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz gets hurt again? Their rotation is in a shambles, and they needed Greinke a lot more than the Angels did.

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    • Paul says:

      Completely agree with this. The apparent unwillingness to deal Olt is going to cost them. Especially since I personally think he’s one of the most over-rated prospects season. There is a ton of swing and miss there and the futures game really exposed that he does not have elite bat speed. He was not impressive there at all.

      But don’t get too confident, as usual Detroit is starting to peak at the right time, and as usual their GM went out and “overpaid” to get top talent to get them over the hump. And the Yankees are pretty good…

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  15. Baldacci says:

    Greinke was nice to have for 1 and 2/3 years but for what they gave up to get him from KC…I think it was a slick fielding SS having a breakout year with the bat (escobar) who was still a top prospect when traded, Ordorizzi, who is one of KCs best pitching prospects now and would be Milwaukee’s best P prospect now, and Lorenzo Cain, who is looking real good…
    its just not a good turn of events for the organization. They would LOVE to have those 3 guys in back in MIL. Not that they didn’t make money and have great hope with Greinke pitching for them, but hope can be misleading.

    The new rule of not getting a supplemental pick if a FA leaves after less than 1 yr with your team hurt Greinke’s value a lot. I mean the Giants gave up an ‘elite’ talent to get Beltran for 2 months or less because they knew they’d get a good young player in the draft when he left. I think the haul MIL got for Greinke is pretty darn good considering the Angels will get nothing for Greinke if he leaves for FA and will cost top dollar to keep.

    The Angels don’t have a particularly long window to win it all here, but their rotation, which I think was unarguably top 2 in the league to start the year, is just downright filthy now. When Haren is your 4th starter, you’re in good shape. They will have to spend to keep this team elite with the dearth of minor league talent.

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    • Dustin says:

      I would argue that it is a good turn of events for the organization. They went to the playoffs, won a series, and got fan interest to an all-time high. While this package isn’t as good as the won they traded to get Greinke, it is still a very good one. The Marcum for Lawrie deal hurts a hell of a lot more than the Greinke one.

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      • Baldacci says:

        I conceded, albeit briefly, that the Brewers made money and interest out of their success with Greinke, but unless you win a championship, a more sustained approach to building a team will garner and keep more fan interest than splurging to make the playoffs for a year or two.

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    • Paul says:

      Draft pick compensation was not a factor in the Giants giving up a legit top prospect for Beltran. The Giants did not offer him arbitration as a Type A FA, so he just walked. And as obvious as it looks that they should have offered him arb after his bounceback season, had he accepted arb. he’d be making over $20m this season. They knew at the time that that simply was not going to happen.

      The notion that draft pick compensation plays a major role in player acquisition is mythology. GMs that deal for players to get into the playoffs generally could not care less about losing the draft picks. To do so would be like your favorite cafe publishing the daily special for a Monday next April. For teams trying to build their orgs by acquiring more draft picks, like AA trading for Miguel Olivo after the season, totally different dynamic.

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  16. Chickensoup says:

    I would never argue against the trade for Greinke and Marcum. Small market teams almost have to do those kinds of trades to ever attempt to win a world series.

    Look at teams that are decent but have good organizational depth and see how often they win it all without making these kinds of trades. Bad long term, great short term. Small market teams on the cusp that want to contend should see how the Brewers did it IMO. Gracefully rebuilding may be a different story

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  17. Anthony says:

    The Angels were going to move Segura eventually after locking up their middle infield for the next 4 years.

    Could he have been a future option at 3rd for LAA?

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  18. Ed says:

    Having seen Segura play this year there’s no reason he can’t or shouldn’t stick at SS. His range is excellent. It’s his arm that might be a little suspect but if he’s an above average hitter you can easily forgive that single flaw and it appears the Brewers are willing to do so.

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  19. Chickensoup says:

    I’m not saying segura isn’t a decent hitter but he’s in AA Nottingham below .300 and carries something like a 5% walk rate. He’s not terrible but I wouldn’t quite give a guy below .300 in AA an above average ranking yet.

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    • Chickensoup says:

      Ugh meant to say in AA hitting below .300

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      • Turks Teeth says:

        The park Segura was playing in (Dickey Stephens in Arkansas) is one of the three most extreme pitcher parks in all the minor leagues. Hitting near .300 there is actually quite good.

        Folks that are down-talking him at the moment have just glanced at his stats and really don’t know him in context. He’s a good prospect, and still young at 22.

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  20. I don’t understand why it matters whether he signs long term or not. The fact is, if he signs long term, they could have done the same whether they traded for him or not. In evaluating the worthiness of the trade, you have to consider only the time that they are getting on the current contract. With that in mind, there is no way that this is a good trade. They gave up way too much for a few months of a pitcher. They could have signed him to a long term contract with or without the prospects, so you only have to look at the difference, which is these few months. The Angels lose in this deal big time.

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