PHILADELPHIA -- The Jean Segura trade will not take the Phillies out of the market for Manny Machado.
On Monday, the Phillies and Mariners announced a deal that sends Segura, right-hander Juan Nicasio and left-hander James Pazos to Philadelphia for first baseman Carlos Santana and shortstop J.P. Crawford, giving the Phils their best everyday shortstop since trading away Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers in December 2014. Segura is a two-time All-Star who rates as one of the game's best shortstops.
The Phillies are better today than yesterday.
But sources said the Phillies still want Machado, which NBC Sports Philadelphia first reported over the weekend.
Why? Well, because the Phillies love Machado, despite his 2018 postseason transgressions and "Johnny Hustle" comments. They think they can make a Machado-Segura infield work, too. Machado is a brilliant third baseman -- many believe he is much better at third base than shortstop -- so the Phils could try to convince him to play there. Of course, he prefers shortstop, but perhaps a record-setting contract of $300 million or more can change his mind.
If Machado is dead-set on shortstop, the Phillies could move Segura to second base. Segura played the entire 2016 season there with the D-backs and enjoyed his best season, leading the National League with 203 hits and finishing 13th for the NL MVP Award.
In that scenario, the Phillies would have to trade second baseman Cesar Hernandez. That would not be a problem, if it meant Machado or no Machado. Philadelphia might have tried to trade Hernandez this offseason anyway, because doing so would have allowed Scott Kingery to move back to his natural position. Instead, Kingery could return to the super-utility role the club envisioned before Crawford got hurt last season.
But Segura's arrival gives the Phillies an enormous amount of flexibility in how they proceed the rest of the offseason. If Machado balks at playing third base or wants too much money, or if another team simply outbids the Phils, they can move forward knowing they already made a significant upgrade to the left side of their infield.
This is where Bryce Harper comes in.
The Phillies like Harper. They recognize he is an iconic player. They know he would be a tremendous presence in the lineup. But sources said the Phils are not keen on letting the Harper sweepstakes drag into 2019, as agent Scott Boras looks for the biggest contract in baseball history. If Philadelphia can acquire Machado in the coming weeks, it could move forward with other more affordable outfielders, like free agents Michael Brantley or A.J. Pollock, or acquire an outfielder in a trade.
Segura allows the Phillies to be more picky. He is an everyday shortstop under team control through 2023, and his presence does not take the team out of the running for the two biggest free agents this offseason. That's a good first step in what is expected to be the Phils' most important offseason in recent years.