MILWAUKEE — The holiday shopping season doesn’t traditionally start until early Friday morning but David Stearns, always on the hunt for a good deal, found one too good to pass up.
The Milwaukee Brewers president of baseball operations took his first step toward shaping his team’s 2020 roster Wednesday by dealing outfielder Trent Grisham and right-hander Zach Davies to the San Diego Padres for left-hander Eric Lauer and infielder Luis Urias, along with future considerations.
“We are excited to add two young, dynamic players to our organization,” Stearns said in a news release. “Both Eric and Luis vaulted through the minor-league system before contributing at the major league level at young ages. We believe that both have a chance to be impact major leaguers for years to come.”
Lauer, 24, was San Diego’s Opening Day starter last season. He went on to make 39 starts in all for the Padres, going 8-10 with a 4.45 ERA and is 14-17 with a 4.40 ERA in two big league seasons.
Urias, however, is the centerpiece of the deal.
Considered one of the Padres’ top prospects going into last season, he hit .315 with 19 home runs, 50 RBIs and a .998 OPS in 73 games with Class AAA El Paso. And while his big league numbers weren’t overly impressive (.208/.264/.354), he did close out the season on a high note, hitting.300 (24-for-80) with two home runs and 10 RBI in 24 September games.
Since signing with the Padres as an international free agent in December 2013, Urias, 22, compiled a .308 average with 36 home runs and 219 RBI in 520 minor league games.
Defensively, Urias has spent the majority of his major league career playing either second base or shortstop; positions currently filled by Keston Hiura and Orlando Arcia, respectively. Hiura, who lived up to his billing as an offensive prodigy as a rookie last season, is likely not going anywhere any time soon but Arcia, once the franchise’s most highly-touted prospect since Ryan Braun, has battled inconsistency at the plate and started to show signs of slipping defensively, which was long considered his strong suit.
Adding Urias to the mix could set up another move involving Arcia, who is eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter and is in line for a significant raise from the $565,700 he earned a year ago.
“We did not have good shortstop production last year (.612 OPS, last in the National League) and we have been open about that,” Stearns told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “For us to ultimately do what we want to do and be the type of team we want to be, production from that position needs to improve.
“Having competition at that position is not a bad thing. We believe we’ve created some of that with this acquisition. We also believe there are other positions (for Urias) to play should that be the case as well.”
Davies stands to see his salary jump in 2020 as well after earning $2.6 million a year ago. Acquired from the Orioles in exchange for Gerardo Parra at the deadline in 2015, Davies, 26, went 43-32 with a 3.91 ERA in 111 starts for Milwaukee, including 10-7 with a 3.55 ERA in 31 starts last season.
Salary wasn’t a primary concern with Grisham, who made his big league debut last season and appeared in 51 games, batting .231 with six home runs and 24 RBI. He was also named the Brewers’ Minor League Player of the Year after combining for 26 home runs between Class AA Biloxi and Class AAA San Antonio. Milwaukee’s outfield, though, is set with Ryan Braun, Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich handling the starting spots and Ben Gamel expected to return in a fourth outfielder role. The Brewers also added outfielder Corey Ray, their No. 4 prospect, to the 40-man roster and have a number of other outfield prospects in the system, making Grisham a valuable trade chip.
"It was more of a trade in an area of need for both clubs," Padres general manager A.J. Preller said. "To get good players you have to move good players."
Along with Davies and Grisham, the Padres acquired another former Brewers player on Wednesday, agreeing to terms with left-hander Drew Pomeranz on a four-year deal reportedly worth $34 million.
Milwaukee sent infield prospect Mauricio Dubon to the Giants at the deadline last season for Pomeranz, who posted a 2.39 ERA in 25 appearances down the stretch — all but one of those coming in a relief role.
Pomeranz, 31, also pitched for San Diego in 2016, going 8-17 with a 2.47 ERA in 17 starts and earning an All-Star berth before he was dealt to the Red Sox at the trade deadline.
The left-hander had a strong final two months of the season with the Brewers after being traded to Milwaukee from San Francisco. He was 0-1 with a 2.39 ERA in 25 games, including one start, striking out 45 and walked only eight of the 100 batters he faced
"We're banking that he's found a role that really fits for him and it was a chance to get an impact performer," Preller said. "He shortened up his repertoire to his fastball and curveball and both pitches became really effective pitches for him. He always had a good heater and out of pen his heater jumped up a tick or two. It became an extremely effective pitch. He always had a good curveball, and played it up."
Rays cut former Brewer Aguilar
The Tampa Bay Rays have acquired minor leaguer Brian O'Grady from the Cincinnati Reds for a player to be named and cash, and to make room for the first baseman/outfielder on the 40-man roster, the Rays designated first baseman Jesús Aguilar for assignment on Wednesday.
Aguilar, who would have been eligible for arbitration, appeared in 37 games and batted .261 with four homers and 16 RBIs with the Rays after being acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers at last season's trade deadline. He has a .256 average with 63 homers and 215 RBIs over six seasons with Cleveland, Milwaukee and Tampa Bay.
The 27-year-old O'Grady spent most of last season with Triple-A Louisville, where he hit .280 with 28 home runs, 77 RBIs and 20 stolen bases. He also made his major league debut, hitting .190 with two homers and three RBIs in 28 games over three stints with the Reds.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.