Reasons Why The Brewers Padres Trade Will Work Out

Photo Credit: The Athletic

THE STOVE IS HOT!!!! Well, it is in Milwaukee at least.  Earlier today the Brewers made a trade with the San Diego Padres sending Zach Davies and Trent Grisham to San Diego while acquiring left-handed starter Eric Lauer and 2nd baseman Luis Urias.  First off, I plugged this into the trade evaluator to get a baseline perspective.  This trade analyzer has been featured on the Effectively Wild Podcast. More explanation can be found here.  This is how it evaluated this trade:

WOW! What a trade rape.  Brewers looked to have just robbed the Padres blind!  Why would the Padres do such a trade?  The Padres are stacked in the middle infield considering Fernando Tatis Jr will man SS for the next decade or more and even with losing Urias they STILL have two middle infield prospects in MLB’s top 100 prospects.  Considering the disappointment Urias was last season in his short stint in the Majors, they may have thought it was worth giving him up to get a young, high ceiling outfielder where they do lack depth.  As for the pitchers, they must have seen something in Davies that they feel they can develop.  Davies began using his changeup more this past season, and for the first half, had one of the best ERAs in the league.  The Padres don’t exactly throw changeups much more than any other team in the league.  Let’s take a look at these players side by side in 2019:

Both Grisham and Urias had shortened seasons while spending the greater parts of 2019 in the Minors.  Both hitters struggled to gain any confidence at the plate in their short stints up.  In Tiple A, however, both were tearing it up.

Urias: 73 Games — .315/.398/600 and 19 HRs

Grisham 97 Games — .300/.407/.603 and 26 HRs.

Both Urias and Grisham have talent, but most people would say that Urias has the higher ceiling of the two.  In addition, this move most likely spells the departure of Orlando Arcia who has now outdone the long leash the Brewers gave him.

In the pitching side of the trade, take a look at how Davies and Lauer compare:

As mentioned earlier, Davies has great early season success with a 3.07 ERA but a 4.38 FIP.  As expected, in the second half he posted a 4.29 ERA with a 4.83 FIP.  Lauer, while used primarily as a starter in San Diego might be used in a long-relief/starter role for the Brewers.  Over two seasons he owns a 4.32 ERA.  While he is not the flashiest pitcher, he does strike out more hitters than Davies.  The areas where he struggles is giving up home runs and walking hitters.  If he can improve in those categories, he will likely drop his ERA by half a run just by doing that.  The Brewers might see ways in which they can get more production out of Lauer.  One approach the Brewers may have in mind with Lauer is to have him throw his curveball more.  Here is Lauer’s pitch distribution last season:

As you can see, his three most thrown pitches are the four-seam, curveball, and cutter.  Here are how opponents hit each pitch last year.

4-Seam Cutter Curveball
Opp BA 0.244 0.311 0.241

He had the most success with his curveball.  If a curveball is his best pitch, why not throw it more? More players are starting to do this, including Rich Hill who practically uses the curve as his primary pitch.  His slider is another offering that could be used more.  In fact, his prospectus report on Fangraphs gives his slider a grade of 55 which is above average.  This SHOULD be a plus pitch for him.  If the Brewers can work to develop this pitch, he could easily find new success.

At first glance, the Brewers definitely look to have the better end of the deal.  The Brewers received Urias, who in many people’s opinion, is the most valuable piece in the trade.  While he has not shown success yet in the MLB, he is just 22 years old and is a top prospect.  I am sure the Padres have good reasons for doing this trade.  They have one of the top farm systems in baseball and can probably afford to give up Urias.  Only time will tell.

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