SS: Philadelphia Phillies, Starter: Jean Segura
On the same day in which the Mets acquired Robinson Canó and Edwin Díaz from the Seattle Mariners, Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto pulled the trigger on another deal, sending Jean Segura to the Phillies for J.P. Crawford and Carlos Santana. Crawford is just 24 but he only holds a career .214 batting average through parts of two seasons. The former top prospect hasn’t lived up to the hype thus far and perhaps a change of scenery will jumpstart his career.
The Phillies, on the other hand, acquired a top 5 shortstop and have likely found their new leadoff hitter. Segura finished sixth in the AL in hits and led a shorthanded Mariners team to 89 wins, narrowly missing the playoffs. Segura will be backed up by Scott Kingery, who can play a steady defense at shortstop.
The other star shortstop in the NL East resides in Washington D.C. Trea Turner is one of the most productive shortstops in baseball at just 25 years old. Turner played all 162 games for the Nationals last season making significant strides in his fourth season. Turner has a cannon for an arm and has displayed quick hands and smooth footwork at short. Turner’s power numbers improve every season and the Nationals should have little concern at short.
When the season is over, there are two other shortstops who could climb the ranks. Mets shortstop Amed Rosario and former Vanderbilt Commodore Dansby Swanson could battle it out throughout the season. Rosario was named the opening day shortstop in 2018; his first full season showed flashes of potential. However, scouts feel that Rosario only scratched the surface of his potential.
Rosario led the Mets in stolen bases and displayed a strong throwing arm at short. Despite this, Rosario looked overmatched at times both at the plate and in the infield. Rosario looked unnatural at times in the field and hit bat only produced a .348 OPS with runners in scoring position.
Another season of experience will likely work out the kinks in Rosario’s defensive play and he will need to adjust to major league pitching and focus on a more steady approach at the plate, chasing fewer pitches outside the strike zone. Another free-swinging shortstop, Javier Baez, nearly won MVP this past season and Rosario is certainly capable of making those adjustments.
The Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson has had a rocky start to his major league career so far. Swanson aims to use his newly gained major league experience to improve his play and potentially reach the lofty expectations that come with being a former number one pick.
The Marlins will experiment with J.T. Riddle at shortstop this season after a below-average season from him offensively in 2018. This is clearly a rebuilding year for Miami.