D-backs acquire Walker, Marte for Segura, two others

The D-backs nearly acquired Taijuan Walker as part of a deal that would have sent Justin Upton to Seattle in 2013.
Joe Nicholson/Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

PHOENIX — The Diamondbacks acquired pitcher Taijuan Walker and infielder Ketel Marte from the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday night for infielder Jean Segura, outfielder Mitch Haniger and reliever Zac Curtis.

"Young, controllable pitching is hard to find and adding Taijuan to the rotation gives us significant depth in that area," GM Mike Hazen said. "He’s not one of the guys you’re able to acquire all the time.

"He has power stuff and we’ve seen that. He’s a big guy He’s a prototypical starting pitcher that you want in your starting rotation."

Walker was considered one of the top young pitchers in the American League, but struggled with consistency. Yet he’s shown flashes of having the potential to become an ace during his young career. Marte had many of the same problems with consistency but had also become a liability in the field.

Walker, 24, was 8-11 with a 4.22 ERA and 119 strikeouts in 25 starts last season. He is 22-22 with a 4.18 ERA in 65 career games (62 starts).

Trade talks between Hazen and Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto started during the GM Meetings in Paradise Valley three weeks ago and continued last week when Hazen was at the organization’s training facility in the Dominican Republic.

"Then they died for a few days before they picked back up today," Hazen said. "We both had what the other wanted."

A former first-round pick by the Mariners, Walker has averaged 8.1 strikeouts per nine innings since making his debut in 2013 at age 21. A native of Shreveport, La., Walker was raised in Yucaipa, Calif. and was rated by Baseball America as a Top 20 prospect in 2013 (No. 11), 2012 (No. 18) and 2011 (No. 20).

The D-backs nearly acquired Walker as part of a deal that would have sent Justin Upton to Seattle in 2013. But Upton blocked the deal and later was dealt to the Braves.

Marte, 23, has appeared in 176 games over the past two seasons with the Mariners, batting .267 with 50 RBI and 19 stolen bases. The switch-hitting native of the Dominican Republic made his Major League debut in 2015 at age 21, when he was among the youngest players in the American League.

"In Ketel, we believe we have acquired a talented switch-hitting shortstop to join a very solid core of young middle infielders."

In trading Segura, the D-backs dealt from a position of strength in their middle infield. But plenty of depth still remains, with Chris Owings, Nick Ahmed and Marte all able to play shortstop and with Brandon Drury, Owings and Marte options at second base.

Segura, 26, hit .319 with 41 doubles, 20 homers, 64 RBI and 33 stolen bases in his lone season with the D-backs last year.

"To get the calibre of players we wanted, we knew we had to give up something in return," Hazen said of Segura.

Segura spent last season at second base for the Diamondbacks, but will move back to shortstop with the Mariners.

"This trade made more sense for where our roster is, and Jean Segura fit this club about as well as any player we were looking at," Dipoto said.

Going into the offseason, Seattle thought its starting pitching depth was enviable. Now the Mariners will need to find supplemental arms after dealing Walker.

"Most of our focus, if not our primary focus, from now until opening day is going to be left toward the pitching staff," Dipoto said.

That might not be so easy for Seattle. Hazen said the thin market for pitchers was one of the reasons the Diamondbacks made the trade for Walker.

Whether it turns out to be a successful trade for either team could ultimately depend on how Marte and Haniger develop.

Marte had many of the same problems with inconsistency as Walker, but also became a liability in the field. Marte hit .259 in 119 games last season, but hitting was secondary to being solid in the field. At times Marte was excellent, but too many routine plays were not made. He finished with 21 errors.

Still, the Diamondbacks were struck by his athleticism and the fact that 2016 was his first full season in the majors at one position.

"Our scouts loved his ability and athleticism in the middle of the field," Hazen said. "We think he adds a lot to the middle of our infield."

Haniger, who turns 26 next month, hasn’t gotten much of a chance to prove himself at the major league level, but Dipoto believes he can play all three outfield positions. Haniger was the Diamondbacks’ minor league player of the year after hitting .321 with 25 homers and 94 RBIs between Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno. He made his major league debut on Aug. 16 against the New York Mets and appeared in 34 games, hitting .229 with five homes and 17 RBIs.

"We feel like Mitch, like so many of the guys we have acquired dating back to last year, there is not much left for him to do in the minor leagues," Dipoto said. "We really like our depth and potential for impact and feel good with where we are with our outfield."