SAN DIEGO -- The Padres entered the offseason in search of outfield help and starting pitching.
They landed both in a trade with the Brewers on Wednesday. It didn't come cheap.
In short, it's an upside-for-upside swap between two bright young players who haven't quite broken through yet in the big leagues. Grisham, a lefty-hitting outfielder, batted .231/.328/.410 in 51 games after his August callup this past season. He's expected to fill an important void in San Diego as a lefty hitter who can play all three outfield positions.
But in order to acquire a high-upside young hitter, the Padres needed to part with a high-upside young hitter. Urías was long believed to be the Padres’ second baseman of the future, but he’ll presumably play shortstop for the Brewers. In parts of two big leagues seasons, the 22-year-old Urías batted .221 with a .649 OPS.
“We saw it as a good baseball trade,” Padres general manager A.J. Preller said. “Sometimes, there are deals because of salary issues. Sometimes, there are deals because someone's getting toward free agency, because clubs are contending or not contending. In this case, it's just a good baseball trade that fits for both clubs.”
Brewers GM David Stearns echoed the sentiment.
“This is one of those trades -- and they don’t come across all that often -- where you really are lining up on team needs with another team,” Stearns said.
On the pitching side, Davies is a bit more polished than Lauer. In parts of five big league seasons with Milwaukee, he owns a 3.91 ERA, and he’s known for inducing soft contact -- particularly ground balls. Lauer, meanwhile, posted a 4.40 ERA in two years with San Diego.
Davies is under contract for two more seasons, which means the pitching swap is a short-term play for the Padres. But they’re hopeful that a host of their top prospects break through over the next few seasons, filling out the rotation.
How Grisham fits
Padres outfielders destroyed left-handed pitching last season. But that righty-heavy group -- which features Wil Myers, Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot -- struggled to hit righties. Grisham’s arrival should help fix that.
A lefty with a knack for reaching base, Grisham batted .404 with a 1.330 OPS against righties at Triple-A San Antonio last season. Plus, he’s a capable center fielder with elite sprint speed. It’s easy to envision an outfield mix in which Grisham is given a chance to play everyday against righties, while the Padres spell one of their righty-hitting options -- possibly Margot in center.
“It gives us a nice complement to some right-handed bats,” Preller said. “He had a tremendous season last year and made some real adjustments. He can do a lot of positive things on the baseball field, and he's a really nice complement to our group of outfielders.”
How Davies fits
Davies is a more reliable rotation piece than Lauer, and that’s important. As much as the Padres would like to add a front-line starting pitcher this winter, they also need to bolster their rotation depth. Too often last year, they turned to bullpen games and unproven prospects. Davies, meanwhile, has been very reliable over his tenure with Milwaukee. Consider this: His 8.1 wins above replacement, according to baseball-reference.com, are more than any Padres pitcher this decade.
“He's got a really good mix, he's a strike-thrower, and he's had some really quality seasons,” Preller said.
As things stand, Davies slots into one of the final three spots in the rotation after Chris Paddack and Garrett Richards. But the Padres will almost certainly remain active on the starting pitching front, and that could mean that Davies finds himself in a battle for a rotation spot with Joey Lucchesi and Dinelson Lamet, among others.
What’s next at second base?
Suddenly, second base is arguably the Padres’ biggest area of need this offseason. Then again, “suddenly” probably isn’t the right word. If the Padres were willing to move Urias in this type of swap, it means they’ve already come to grips with the idea that he wasn’t going to be their long-term answer at second base.
Greg Garcia, Ty France and Ian Kinsler are the current in-house options for 2020. But Preller is seemingly already on the lookout for his next move.
“There are second-base options that are out there both in the free-agent and trade markets,” Preller said. “We're going to continue to look.”