MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers demoted slumping shortstop Orlando Arcia to the Minor Leagues on Friday, stunning some of the 23-year-old's teammates amid a flurry of transactions that also produced a change at catcher.Arcia was optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs while a similarly slumping player, backup catcher Jett Bandy, was designated
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers demoted slumping shortstop Orlando Arcia to the Minor Leagues on Friday, stunning some of the 23-year-old's teammates amid a flurry of transactions that also produced a change at catcher.
Arcia was optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs while a similarly slumping player, backup catcher Jett Bandy, was designated for assignment. The team acquired veteran catcher Erik Kratz from the Yankees for a player to be named or cash to replace Bandy, and recalled Eric Sogard for Arcia's spot.
The Brewers also continued to cycle relievers between the Minors and Majors in an ongoing effort to have as many fresh arms on hand as possible, sending down Jorge Lopez and calling up Adrian Houser in a swap of right-handers.
The boldest of those moves was demoting Arcia, the former top prospect who was a cornerstone of the franchise's brief rebuilding period. He continued to rate in advanced metrics as one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball, but was hitless in his last 15 at-bats and had two hits in his last 29 at-bats, falling to .194/.233/.273 in 146 plate appearances this season.
Of players with at least 100 plate appearances in the Majors, Arcia was fifth worst with 35 wRC+ and a .225 wOBA.
"There were no good results coming out of the [batter's] box," said Brewers manager Craig Counsell. "I believe that we're our best team when he's playing shortstop, but he's got to provide something on the offensive end.
"We know he's continued to do it on the defensive end, but he can do better on the offensive end. He's shown that to us. He's shown us a lot better. This is an attempt to just get back to that a little bit, or get back close to that. I think he will. It's never good news or fun news to deliver, but I think in the long run this is the best thing for him and for us."
Arcia was quiet but professional, Counsell said, while receiving the news Thursday night in the wake of a 5-0 loss to the Mets. It was Milwaukee's Major League-leading ninth shutout loss this season.
Teammates were surprised.
"Everybody, we're kind of like, 'Why?'" said first baseman Jesus Aguilar. "But we don't [make] decisions here. We're moving forward, and we hope he's going to be here in 10 days."
Asked how Arcia's absence would impact the Brewers' lively clubhouse and dugout culture, Aguilar said, "A lot. I think it's going to be a lot different. We're a unit, a family, but it's going to be tough, especially with those two guys, Bandy and Arcia."
Said Manny Pina: "It's kind of quiet in the clubhouse."
Brewers GM David Stearns said clubhouse chemistry "is always a consideration" when teams make sweeping changes, but spoke highly of what he believes Sogard and Kratz will bring.
Added Counsell, "Players are aware that there [are] performance expectations on them. They live with it every day. It's challenging. It doesn't change that Orlando is not part of this. He's got to get himself straightened out. He's still part of this. That hasn't changed one bit."
Sogard was demoted himself earlier this season after a 6-for-60 start, and didn't fare much better at hitter-friendly Colorado Springs, slashing .229/.255/.313. He will fill a complementary role for the Brewers to Tyler Saladino, who has been terrific at shortstop while beginning his Brewers career with a 190 wRC+ in his first 35 plate appearances.
Kratz turns 38 next month, and while he has produced at the plate in the Minor Leagues -- especially in the last two seasons for the Indians' and Yankees' top affiliates -- he has not done much in the Majors in very limited duty in recent seasons.
But the Brewers deemed it time to move on from Bandy, 28, who hit .188/.268/.266 this season and had a .608 OPS in 259 plate appearances for the Brewers over the past two years. With Stephen Vogt out for the year with a shoulder injury and Bandy struggling, the Brewers have had a hard time finding a productive complement to Pina.
"There's a possibility that he stays in the organization, but the possibility of it being more final is certainly there with Jett's departure," Counsell said.
The team had high hopes that Bandy could be its everyday catcher when it traded Martin Maldonado and a Minor League pitcher to the Angels for then-26-year-old Bandy in December 2016, but while Maldonado went on to win the American League Gold Glove Award in '17, Bandy struggled.
Now the job belongs to Kratz, whom the Brewers tried to sign to a Minor League deal during the offseason, according to Stearns. Kratz began his Brewers career by catching a Brent Suter bullpen.
"It's a challenge, no doubt," Kratz said of joining a team at midseason. "It's not the first time I've done it. I know one time I came midseason and got to the field at 6:30, so I got a five-hour jump on that this time. But it's just something where it's not me necessarily learning them, it's them being comfortable with me. They need to be able to do what they do to be successful, and they need to feel comfortable that I know them and I want what's best for them, and that's just time.
"That takes time. It's not overnight, but it's something that's exciting for me."
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.