Adames upon joining Crew: 'I like to win'

Righty Richards brings 'live arm' to Brewers' bullpen

May 22nd, 2021

It was just six weeks ago that the Brewers felt so confident in Luis Urías at shortstop that they traded Orlando Arcia to the Braves for a pair of relievers.

Now, with Urías’ errors piling up, they had to turn around and make a similar trade in the opposite direction.

At least, that’s how it appeared from the outside. Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns had a different explanation for the trade Friday that brought shortstop Willy Adames and right-hander Trevor Richards from the Rays for right-handed relievers J.P. Feyereisen and Drew Rasmussen. The move bolsters Milwaukee’s defense with a shortstop who is 25, has started World Series games and has three and a half years of club control, but at the significant cost of two young, quality bullpen arms.

Brewers get: SS Willy Adames, RHP Trevor Richards
Rays get: RHP J.P. Feyereisen, RHP Drew Rasmussen

Acquiring a new shortstop, Stearns said, was not a response to Urías’ defensive issues.

“We've been talking with Tampa about Willy for months, really, and it just got going again over the past week and we were able to get a deal done this morning,” Stearns said. “Luis hasn't had a great defensive week. I certainly understand that. He certainly understands that. We believe that he is a good defender. Young players go through growing pains and I think we all understand that. Sometimes, they can be frustrating, but I think Luis will be able to look at these moments in his career and I think he'll grow from it and he'll overcome this.”

Urías had back-to-back multi-error games on Sunday against the Braves and Tuesday at the Royals, giving him nine errors in his first 38 games this season. Now, with Adames at shortstop alongside Gold Glove Award-winning second baseman Kolten Wong, Urías becomes a super-utility player for the Brewers in the near term. That’s probably not the role that they envisioned when they traded up-and-coming outfielder Trent Grisham to the Padres as part of the trade to land Urías in November 2019.

But the interest in Adames was a separate matter, said Stearns, who touted Adames’ defensive reputation and experience given his relatively young age, and said that Adames’ offensive numbers so far in 2021 -- .197/.254/.371 in 142 plate appearances -- are not indicative of the type of upside that he still possesses at the plate. For his career, Adames is a .254/.320/.420 hitter. He has a Minor League option remaining and will be arbitration-eligible for the first time following this season.

“He’s a 25-year-old shortstop who had his best season in the big leagues last year. Who knows if the player’s available if he’s having a great year?” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “That’s how you’ve got to look at it a little bit. But we think at that age, and what he’s done in the big leagues and the potential that he’s shown and what us and others have thought of him, this is a guy that’s going to be a successful hitter in the big leagues.”

Adames referred to the trade as “really surprising,” but he already has a head start in getting to know his new team. He’s very close with Brewers outfielder Avisaíl García; the two spent Friday afternoon texting. Adames also knows Brewers catcher Omar Narváez, Urías and former Rays teammate Daniel Robertson, as well as former Brewer Carlos Gomez, who is from the same hometown (Santiago, in the Dominican Republic). Adames will wear Gomez’s former No. 27 when he joins the Brewers on Saturday.

“I have some friends there who are waiting for me already,” Adames said. “It’s a great opportunity for me as a player to be a part of this organization. Hopefully I can bring some good stuff to the table and bring a lot of energy to the clubhouse and the dugout.”

Of what he knows about the Brewers, Adames said, “I know they’re always pushing to go to the playoffs and they like to win. That’s one thing I love about them. That’s what I’m all about. I like to win. I don’t like to lose.”

Richards, 28, is 10-21 with a 4.42 ERA in 70 games (52 starts) for the Marlins and Rays. He pitched primarily as a starter in Miami in 2018-19 before a midseason trade sent him to Tampa Bay alongside lights-out right-hander Nick Anderson.

“In Richards, we're adding a live arm with a really good fastball/changeup combination,” Stearns said. “His role has changed a little bit over the course of this season. He's been pitching in some shorter stints, and we're looking forward to adding him to our bullpen and having him contribute to our bullpen.”

Stearns added of Feyereisen and Rasmussen, “Clearly, we're giving up two pieces who have contributed a great deal to our club this year.”

Then there is the matter of Urías, who is suddenly blocked at both shortstop by Adames and at second base by Wong, who is signed through next year and has a club option in 2023.

“Luis, probably most of his starts, if everybody stays healthy, would be at third base. But he’ll also be able to fill in at short and second,” Counsell said. “I think he’s up for the challenge. I guess that’s the No. 1 thing to say. Luis has performed decently; I think offensively, he’s done a nice job. He’s had some hiccups defensively. He’s a young player. Young players are asked to continually prove themselves. Luis is going to be asked to prove himself again, just like every player is.

“Luis is up for the challenge. I believe that. And I believe he’s going to be a productive member of the team.”

Because Adames and Richards were just informed of the trade Friday afternoon, neither was scheduled to join the Brewers until sometime Saturday; Milwaukee went into its series opener against the Reds in Cincinnati with a short bullpen. Adames said that he told Counsell that he’ll be ready to start Saturday’s afternoon game.

The team did activate Robertson, its utility man, from the seven-day concussion injured list for Friday’s game. He last played in the Majors on April 25 against the Cubs when he was hit in the helmet by a pitch.