Former Marlins GM Kim Ng remains a popular topic of conversation around baseball, following her surprise departure from the organization earlier this week. This morning, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald provided some insight into one of Ng’s worst errors of judgment during her tenure in Miami: signing Jean Segura to a two-year, $17MM deal last winter. According to Jackson, the executive wanted Justin Turner to play third base for the Marlins in 2023, but she was forced to change gears and pursue Segura after Turner signed with the Red Sox.
From 2020-22, Segura was an above-average hitter and a capable infield defender for the Phillies. However, the 33-year-old struggled tremendously in 2023, hitting .219 with a 52 wRC+ in 85 games for the Marlins. He also had trouble on the other side of the ball, committing 10 errors and compiling -9 Defensive Runs Saved and -4 Outs Above Average. With -1.3 FanGraphs WAR, the former All-Star was one of the least valuable players in the National League. Ultimately, the Marlins dealt Segura to the Guardians at the deadline, and Cleveland released him the same day. He has not played professional baseball since.
Turner, on the other hand, played a solid campaign for the Red Sox. His 114 wRC+ was his lowest since 2013, but he set a new career-high in plate appearances and RBI. In 146 games, he smacked 23 home runs and put the ball in play at an elite rate, finishing with the seventh-highest contact rate in the American League. That said, it’s worth mentioning that he took most of his reps at DH and first base. The 38-year-old played just 58 games in the field and only seven at the hot corner. He made three errors in 57 innings at third base, so it’s fair to wonder if he could have handled the position on a full-time basis for Miami.
It isn’t news that the Marlins were interested in Turner last winter, but Jackson’s report clarifies why they wound up with Segura instead. This new information paints Ng’s decision to sign Segura in a more positive light – he wasn’t her first choice, after all – although if she so strongly preferred Turner, it’s hard to imagine she couldn’t have beat Boston’s offer. Turner signed for two years and $21.7MM guaranteed, only $2.35MM more per year than Segura would command.
More to the point, while signing Turner might have gotten the Marlins more bang for their buck, Ng would eventually find a way to right her wrongs. She flipped Segura to the Guardians for Josh Bell, who played an instrumental role in Miami’s run to the playoffs. Moreover, she traded for Jake Burger of the White Sox, who now looks like the Marlins’ third baseman of the future. All front office executives sign bad contracts from time to time, and to her credit, Ng did an excellent job turning things around. Indeed, if the Marlins had signed Turner instead of Segura, they might not have traded for Bell or Burger, and their improbable postseason run might never have happened.