The Red Sox announced that they have acquired infielder Luis Urías from the Brewers for minor league right-hander Bradley Blalock. Robert Murray of FanSided first had Urías going to the Red Sox while Adam McCalvy of MLB.com first reported on Blalock’s involvement.
Urías, 26, seemed to be establishing himself as a solid part of the Milwaukee roster in the previous two seasons. Over 2021 and 2022, he launched 39 home runs and hit a combined .244/.340/.426 for a wRC+ of 111. This year, however, has been an entirely different story.
He was placed on the injured list with a hamstring strain after the first game of the season and wasn’t able to return until June 5. In the next three-plus weeks, he hit just .145/.299/.236 for a wRC+ of 60. A .179 batting average on balls in play wasn’t doing him any favors, but his exit velocity, hard hit rate and barrel rate were all down a few points. That cold spell was pronounced enough for the Brewers to send him to the minors, his first time being optioned since he was a Padre back in 2019. Things haven’t gone much better in Triple-A, as he’s hitting .233/.345/.379 at that level this year for a wRC+ of 84.
Right after acquiring Urías, the Sox assigned him to Triple-A, so he’ll serve as infield depth for the time being. Infield depth has been an ongoing concern in Boston this year ever since Trevor Story required elbow surgery in the offseason. He’s still yet to make his season debut, currently out on a rehab assignment. Enrique Hernández came in from the outfield to take over shortstop but that experiment didn’t work and he’s since been traded to the Dodgers.
For now, the club has a mixture of Yu Chang, Pablo Reyes, Christian Arroyo and Justin Turner up the middle. Urías will join Bobby Dalbec among the depth options that are on the 40-man roster but currently stashed at Triple-A. Urías has another option year beyond this one but could wind up non-tendered as he’ll be due a raise on this year’s $4.7MM salary.
In exchange for a player that had fallen out of their plans, the Brewers will get Blalock. The 22-year-old was a 32nd-round selection of the Red Sox in 2019. He was able to get some professional experience in 2019 and 2021, with the pandemic canceling the minor leagues in 2020. Then his 2022 was wiped out by Tommy John surgery, costing him another year of development.
Here in 2023, he’s been putting himself back on the prospect map. He’s made 11 starts, split between Single-A and High-A, posting a 2.19 ERA in 53 1/3 innings. He’s struck out 27.6% of opponents against a 6.2% walk rate. Back in June, FanGraphs ranked him the #17 prospect in Boston’s system. They note that the Sox were set to have a difficult decision to make, as Blalock will be Rule 5 eligible this winter and could be an attractive pick, despite not yet reaching Double-A.