The San Diego Padres wasted no time getting an addition to an underwhelming pitching staff. But neither did the Brewers reinforcing their infield personnel. On Tuesday the 2019 NL Wild Card Game participant traded starting pitcher Zach Davies and outfielder Trent Grisham to San Diego for Padres prospect Luis Urias and righty Eric Lauer.
Both teams fixed important holes in their roster, but the price both of them paid might be a little too high. That gives the Padres more headaches as they’re still considerably further from contending than Milwaukee.
Urias entered 2019 as MLB Pipeline’s 16th-ranked prospect. In a year when he absolutely took over Triple-A, batting .315 with 19 homers and 50 runs batted in through 73 appearances, he also took the field for the Padres in 71 games, slashing .223. One thing’s almost certain – he’s not going to be the starting second baseman come March, unless Keston Hiura agrees to a position change, which is unlikely.
He could play his way into the starting role at second base, or even get the job straight away if Orlando Arcia, who has proved to be an insufficient batter with .223 batting average in 2019, doesn’t stay in Wisconsin as he’s arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career. Same goes for Travis Shaw at third.
It is still questionable as to whether Urias can deliver on daily basis in the majors, but his ceiling is certainly high and if the Brewers get the best of him sooner rather than later, he could be a factor. It surely seems like they’re giving up too much for a team that was already struggling when it comes to starting pitching, but it’s the best Milwaukee could do with Urias’ six-year contract through the end of the 2022 campaign. It’s up to Lauer, who held a 4.04 ERA before the break, to fill in that hole on the mound.
The deal could really be more impactful to the Padres rather than the Brewers. On the one hand, they are finally getting the addition in the starting rotation that they were so desperate for since the middle of the 2019 season. San Diego finished the year 12th out of 15 NL teams in starters ERA with 4.60. Only Chris Paddack posted an ERA less than 4.00 (3.33), while Joey Lucchesi was the only Padre to pitch over 160 innings.
This staff is going to get Davies, who’s coming off his best season to date after an injury-ridden 2018. Davies, who posted a career-high 3.55 ERA with 10-7 record and team-leading 159.2 innings pitched, was a huge piece of a Brewers staff that lacked ace Brandon Woodruff for nearly two months. Davies is 3-0 with 3.80 ERA in 21.1 innings at PetCo Park throughout his career. He has started more games than the four in San Diego only in the five ballparks in the NL Central, so he’s pretty aware of the setting there, which only further justifies A. J. Peller’s choice.
The thrill for the Padres, who haven’t managed a winning record since the 90-71 2010 campaign, doesn’t stop there. Trent Grisham could potentially fill the hole in the outfield left from Franmil Reyes’ departure in July, when he was traded to the Indians. To be clear – he isn’t currently as good a batter as Reyes but has a near ceiling. His .738 OPS in 51 second-half games helped the Brewers battle through a Christian Yelich injury to secure a wild card berth.
Despite the Padres giving up a big part of their future, they feel like the winners of this trade considering their approach and provided that Grisham and Davies keep playing at the same level. Greg Garcia and Ian Kinsler leave second base short-handed but it’s worth it for a potentially good bat and a very good starting arm.
Regardless of where Urias goes on the Brewers infield, they’ll need another upgrade as both Arcia and Shaw have struggled at the plate. Brent Suter, who started in 18 and 14 games in 2018 and 2017, respectively, appeared 9 times last year returning from an injury and will be the wild card that could make up for Davies’ absence.
Where are the two clubs likely to focus next?
As for the Padres, they still need a starting pitcher. That’s something they’re perfectly aware of as they’ve shown interest in both Madison Bumgarner and Stephen Strasburg on the free agent market. A decision is also coming up at second base on whether the Padres will stick to Garcia or Kinsler or move another infielder there. Or perhaps they might acquire one.
The Brewers’ biggest focus has been third base, where they could look to re-sign Mike Moustakas or acquire Braves third basemen Josh Donaldson in free agency. Anthony Rendon is also available in that field but he’s too big a fish. They could also explore the possibility of getting a starter as they have about a $100 million to go before luxury tax.