Yesterday, the Brewers and Padres linked up on an interesting four-player swap. MLBTR’s Jeff Todd discussed the players involved in the immediate aftermath of the deal, but it’s worth pondering a little further.
San Diego sent middle infielder Luis Urías and left-hander Eric Lauer to Milwaukee in exchange for outfielder Trent Grisham and right-hander Zach Davies. It’s the rare swap involving four current MLB players, three of whom have yet to even reach arbitration. Unlike many deals where a current contender trades future value to a rebuilding club to upgrade the roster in the short-term, this swap hinges mostly on the talent of the players involved. As Padres GM A.J. Preller put it (via MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell), “sometimes, there are deals because of salary issues. Sometimes, there are deals because someone’s getting toward free agency, because clubs are contending or not contending. In this case, it’s just a good baseball trade.”
For the most part, the deal turns on which of Urías and Grisham one prefers. Each has been a top 50 overall prospect in the past, per Baseball America, but Urías entered 2019 as the more acclaimed of the two. Grisham had a breakout season in the high minors last year, with a cumulative .300/.407/.603 slash in 441 plate appearances between AA and AAA before making his MLB debut in August. Urías, too, mashed in AAA last season (.315/.398/.600 in 339 PA), but scuffled in limited big league action. Grisham was a bit better in his small sample of MLB time, even if a misplay in right field in the NL Wild Card game ended the season on a sour note.
Of course, that one play was not the reason Milwaukee pulled the trigger on this deal, as Brewers GM David Stearns told reporters (including Adam McCalvy of MLB.com). On the whole, reviews of Grisham’s defense in the corner outfield tend to be positive, even if, despite 93rd percentile sprint speed, he’s not viewed by many public outlets as a long-term option in center. Urías offers more defensive value as a middle infielder, although reviews tend to be mixed on him at shortstop, where he figures to play in Milwaukee with Keston Hiura locking down the keystone.
It’s a bit tougher to get too excited over the pitchers involved, although both are certainly useful big leaguers. Davies has the stronger bottom line results, with a 3.91 career ERA and an even better 3.55 mark in 159.2 innings in 2019. He’s never posted a 20% strikeout rate or a 10% swinging strike rate in a full season, though, and the soft-tossing contact manager has generally fallen out of favor in today’s game. Lauer’s profile isn’t dramatically different. His strikeout and walk rates are higher than Davies’ but each is lower than average. Lauer, though, hasn’t had the success Davies has had to this point keeping runs off the board. Davies is more expensive ($5MM arbitration projection) and comes with three fewer seasons of team control, but neither hurler figures to threaten either team’s bottom line moving forward.
How would you grade this deal for both teams?
(poll link for app users)
And San Diego…
(poll link for app users)