Kyle Seager, 3B
Current team: Seattle Mariners
Current contract: Year 3 of 7-year $100M contract (with a 2022 team option)
Current 2017 stats: .259/.326/.450 with 19 HR in 121 games
2018 Age: 30
The Player: Seager, the older brother of Dodgers star SS Corey Seager, first broke in with the Mariners in the middle of the 2011 season. Since taking over the Mariners’ 3B job six years ago, Seager has posted a career slash line of .265/.333/.447 and a 117 wRC+. 2017 will mark his sixth straight season of 20+ HR, and he’s been worth an average fWAR of 4.2 since his first full season in the big leagues. Like most left-handed hitters, Seager does show significant career splits (126 wRC+ vs RHP; 99 vs LHP), but over the last 4 seasons he’s actually been above average vs LHP (107 wRC+). On top of his strong offensive numbers, Seager also grades out as an above average defender at 3B (career 2.8 UZR/150), and even won a Gold Glove in 2014.
Why it would work: Take a moment and look back to the 2012-2013 offseason. Arizona had three years remaining on the contract extension of 25-year-old outfielder Justin Upton. Upton had signed a 6-year $51.25M deal with the Diamondbacks of March 2010, and his salary was about to hit a significant spike in 2013. After making an average of $5.5M over the 2011 and 2012 seasons, Upton was set to make $31.5M over the next three years of the contract. It was a significant pay increase for Upton, and the Diamondbacks saw this as a great time to unload his contract.
Fast forward to 2017, and you see Seager’s contract shows that he made $4M in ’15, $7.5M in ’16, and $10.5M in ’17. Then it bumps up to an average of $19M over the next 4 seasons. It’s a huge payday for Seager, and if the last few seasons are any indication, he will be worth every penny. The Mariners could see this as an opportunity to unload a very large contract while lightening the load on a payroll that includes over $250M owed to Robinson Cano, Felix Hernandez and Jean Segura between now and 2023.
Why it won’t work: Quite frankly, the Mariners could choose to keep Seager while attempting to trade Cano and part of his contract. Even though Cano has continued to play at a high level in 2017, he and his massive contract will only become harder and harder to trade as he ages. With that being said, trading a contract that large with a player that old (he’s entering his age 35 season) could prove quite difficult for the M’s. Even if they eat a significant portion of the contract, they are unlikely to get a great return for the aging slugger.
Internally, the Braves have Austin Riley crushing at AA Mississippi (.305/.369/.468), and Riley won’t turn 21 until Spring Training 2018. The Braves could view Riley as the long-term answer and ultimately decide not to pursue a multi-year player like Seager. On top of that, the Braves have infielder Kevin Maitan in Danville. Even though Maitan is off to a slow start in the Appalachian League, he’s considered by many to be one of the top international signings in a decade. There are definitely some intriguing internal options at third base over the next few years.
Conclusion: The numbers speak for themselves. Kyle Seager is a very good hitter that would give Atlanta a strong player over the next 4 or 5 seasons. Although he’s older than Upton was when the 2013 trade occurred, Seager’s contract is much larger. So the return for the M’s could be somewhat similar to what the Diamondbacks got from Atlanta in 2013. The Braves sent one year of team control of Martin Prado, top-5 prospect RHP Randall Delgado, and 3 good-not-great prospects in RHP Zeke Spruill, IF Nick Ahmed, and IF Brandon Drury to Arizona (it’s worth noting the Dbacks also included Chris Johnson in the Upton deal). Would the Braves be willing to part with a similar package in 2018? They certainly have the prospect depth to pull it off.