Brewers net 2 promising RHPs for Arcia

April 6th, 2021

MILWAUKEE -- After moving to third base this spring, is moving to Atlanta.

Sealing the fact that Luis Urías is now the primary shortstop in Milwaukee, the Brewers traded Arcia to the Braves on Tuesday for a pair of Major League-ready right-handers, and . The latter was Atlanta’s No. 12-ranked prospect, per MLB Pipeline, and he immediately joined the Brewers’ Top 30 at No. 17.

Brewers get:
RHP Chad Sobotka, RHP Patrick Weigel
Braves get: INF Orlando Arcia

Arcia, 26, was Milwaukee’s Opening Day shortstop in four straight seasons from 2017-20, but while he was a beloved teammate for his energy and humor, and a terrific postseason performer, he has yet to develop into the all-around player the Brewers expected when he was their top prospect and the 13th-ranked prospect in baseball upon arriving in the Major Leagues in August 2016. After a particularly disappointing 2019 season at the plate and in the field, the Brewers acquired a competitor for Arcia in former Padres infielder Urías, and this spring, the club essentially made the transition to Urías as their primary shortstop.

Arcia saw most of his spring action at third base, appearing there in three of the Brewers’ first four regular-season games and starting the last two. He was off to a 1-for-11 start to the regular season after hitting .191 (9-for-47) in Spring Training.

“Look, this is a player who spent 12 years in the organization,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “He's been here in the big leagues with us for the last five and he's been part of -- and frankly, right in the middle of -- all the memorable moments that have happened here in the last 4-5 seasons. And not just here for them, but literally right in the middle of them.”

Counsell rattled off some of the moments: Arcia’s four hits in the 2018 National League Central tiebreaker game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. His homers in both Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the Rockies and in Game 3 of the NL Championship Series against the Dodgers. And another home run off the Dodgers’ Walker Buehler in Game 1 of the 2020 NL Wild Card Series.

“His star has shined the brightest in the biggest games that the Brewers have played in the last five years,” Counsell said.

That’s on the field. Arcia also had an impact off the field beyond his statistics.

“It's really a player who was an energy-giver, I think is probably the best way to say it, to his teammates,” Counsell said. “His smile was infectious. His ability to, every day, play the game as you did when you were in Little League as a kid, and enjoy the game like a kid enjoys the game, is an incredible thing to do. You know, that's not easy to do and it's admirable that he is still able to do that.”

Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns, too, noted Arcia’s contributions to the organization before discussing details of the trade, and noted that Arcia and Manny Piña were neck and neck as the longest-tenured players on the team with Ryan Braun’s departure last year.

“Frankly, he went through ups and downs,” Stearns said. “This wasn’t smooth sailing for a top prospect breaking into baseball, but I think Orlando always handled himself well, always showed up to the park with a smile and, as we saw, routinely contributed in big moments.”

In parts of six big league seasons, Arcia owns a .244/.293/.364 slash line in the regular season and .295/.311/.568 in 45 plate appearances over three postseasons. He is earning $2 million this season, and he has one more year of club control before reaching free agency in the 2022-23 offseason.

The Braves, who have an everyday shortstop in Dansby Swanson and a right-handed-hitting third baseman in Austin Riley, optioned Arcia to their alternate training site. Stearns said the Brewers had been talking to the Braves and other clubs about Arcia for several months.

Sobotka, 27, appeared in the Majors for the Braves in each of the past three years and has a 5.36 ERA in 47 innings, with 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings. His best showing was as a rookie in 2018, when he had a 1.88 ERA in 14 appearances down the stretch. In ’19, he made Atlanta’s Opening Day roster and had a 6.21 ERA in 32 games. He was not on Atlanta’s Opening Day roster this year.

Weigel, 26, was already a top pitching prospect for the Braves before undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2017 and missing the majority of the ’18 season. He had a productive year in ’19 at the Double-A and Triple-A levels, with a 2.73 ERA in 28 games (18 starts), and made a brief big league debut -- one appearance -- with the Braves in 2020.

Both pitchers have one Minor League option remaining, and they will begin their Brewers tenures with the alternate training site group.

“We do think that continuing to ensure that we have the pitching needed to make it through this season is important,” Stearns said. “These are two guys with big, power arms -- very big people in general -- and we think they’ll be able to help us through the course of the season. The flexibility to add to the number of pitchers who do have the ability to spend time at Triple-A, as well as the big leagues, is important.”

Counsell said his goodbyes to Arcia in person at the team hotel in Chicago on Tuesday morning. Teammates found out about the trade the same way as fans, via the news or social media. Brewers pitcher Brandon Woodruff saw the trade on MLB Network.

“He just really cared for other people, his teammates,” Woodruff said. “I’d describe him as the [Brent] Suter of the dugout. [Suter] was going crazy in the bullpen and we had Arcia in the dugout. He kept things loose; just a great guy. I think a lot of guys will miss him around here.”