Image credit: Luis Urias (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty)
The Padres needed a lefthanded-hitting outfielder and an established righthanded starter. The Brewers needed a middle infielder and a controllable young starter for the back of their rotation.
On Wednesday, the teams struck a deal to meet each other’s needs.
The Padres traded second baseman/shortstop Luis Urias and lefthander Eric Lauer to the Brewers for center fielder Trent Grisham and righthander Zach Davies. The Padres also traded a player to be named later in the deal.
The Padres received the more highly regarded pitcher, while the Brewers received the more highly regarded position player. Davies went 10-7, 3.55 pitching his home games in hitter-friendly Miller Park last season while Lauer has a career 4.40 ERA pitching his home games at pitcher-friendly Petco Park.
Urias and Grisham, meanwhile, each spent most of last season in the minors before finishing the year in the majors and graduating from prospect status. Urias was the Triple A-Pacific Coast League’s No. 10 prospect last year. Grisham was No. 16.
Luis Urias, 2B/SS
Urias came to be regarded as one of the best pure hitters in the minors and a potential future batting champion after a breakthrough season at high Class A Lake Elsinore, but as he approached the majors his swing progressively got longer and his plate discipline regressed as he began chasing power. Even as he put up big numbers in the PCL in 2019, evaluators worried he’d be exposed in the majors. That happened initially, but he shortened up and hit .269 with a .351 on-base percentage the final two months of the season. Urias has elite-hand eye coordination and is at his best when his swing is short and he focuses on lining the ball to all fields. He gets in trouble when he chases power, although he has surprising pop for his size and can turn around fastballs and send them 400-plus feet. He’s an above-average natural second baseman who has seen increasing time at shortstop and can play there as needed, but he’s at his best both offensively and defensively when he can focus on his natural position. Urias still holds plenty of offensive promise as a hit collector and an on-base machine, even if evaluators are less confident he’ll reach his ceiling than in previous years.
Eric Lauer, LHP
Lauer reached the majors less than two years after the Padres made him a first-round pick out of Kent State in 2016. The Ohio native has a deceptive fastball he’ll dial up and down anywhere from 87-95 mph, although he gets in trouble when he throttles down too much and is often hittable. Lauer can land his looping curveball for a strike and place his slider and cutter on the back foot of righties, while his changeup is a below-average pitch evaluators think will improve with more use. Lauer relies on mixing his pitches and hitting his spots to be successful and has little margin for error with no pitch better than average. Some evaluators think there is room for improvement if he can keep his foot on the pedal with his fastball and tweak his pitch usage.
Trent Grisham, OF
The Brewers made Grisham the 15th overall pick in 2015, but injuries and an overly passive approach relegated him to an afterthought by 2018. He experienced a rebirth in 2019 by returning to the unconventional batting grip he used in high school—he lays his thumbs on the handle like a golf club rather than wrapping them around—and taking a more aggressive approach. Grisham also worked to make contact earlier instead of letting the ball travel too deep into the strike zone. He rose from Double-A to Triple-A to Milwaukee and hit 32 home runs combined across the three levels after never hitting more eight home runs in a season. Grisham is a patient, disciplined hitter who posts low averages but high on-base percentages. If his power spike holds, he’ll provide enough offensive impact to play every day. Grisham’s thick lower body and average speed don’t look the part in center field, but he gets good jumps and makes the catches he should. Though his current enduring image is overrunning a ground ball in right field that allowed the Nationals to score the go-ahead run in the NL Wild Card game, he’s a capable defender at all three outfield spots. Grisham has three full seasons of poor offensive production compared to only one of positive offensive production, so the Padres are making a bold bet his changes will hold.
Zach Davies, RHP
Davies has quietly been one of the National League’s most steady righthanded starters over the last four-plus seasons and is coming off his best year. None of Davies’ stuff stands out, but he consistently outperforms his peripherals with his above-average control. Davies keeps traffic off the bases with a low walk rate and avoids barrels, limiting damage despite the fact he doesn’t miss many bats. Davies provides an experienced righthanded starter to pair with Chris Paddack and Dinelson Lamet—who both have less than 200 career innings under their belt—and won’t be a free agent until 2022.