AJ Preller has a busy day, acquires Grisham and Davies from Milwaukee; signs Drew Pomeranz

Sep 6, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Zach Davies (27) throws a pitch in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

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Aug 19, 2019; St. Louis, MO, USA; Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Zach Davies (27) pitches during the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

AJ Preller has continued his tradition of working on the holidays, much to the chagrin of other general managers.

A deal was made early on Thanksgiving Eve with the Milwaukee Brewers, as both Luis Urias and Eric Lauer were packaged in exchange for Trent Grisham and Zach Davies.

As a cherry on top, Drew Pomeranz will be returning to San Diego as a left-handed relief pitcher as he agreed to a four-year, $34 million guaranteed contract. The deal is pending a physical.

Urias is the highlight of the deal and, should he bounce back from a disappointing stint with the Padres, this deal can backfire horrendously. Urias, ranked the number 27 prospect in MLB Pipeline’s 2018 Top 100 prospect list, hit a lowly .233/.329/.326 in 2019 in 71 games.

Once a contact-first hitter, Urias had recently adopted a leg kick that, instead of adding power, only added to his strikeout total. He only hit four home runs in 215 at-bats while racking up a 22.5% strikeout rate.

His ceiling is still incredibly high, but Urias didn’t get enough playing time to prove it. In Milwaukee, perhaps he will show his true self and achieve his potential.

Also going to the Brewers is Lauer, who pitched to a 4.45 ERA and a 4.23 FIP/4.77 xFIP/4.72 SIERA in 149.2 innings of work. The left-hander saw an uptick in his strikeout numbers with an 8.30 K/9 and a slight drop in his walk rate with a 3.07 BB/9.

Lauer was able to keep the ball on the ground for the most part as opposing batters hit a groundball 39.9% of the time at the exchange of a slightly higher 38.1% fly-ball rate.

If anything, Lauer’s performance in 2019 was similar to his 2018 season, but the left-hander was always going to be a back-end starter in the Padres rotation. He, like Joey Luchessi, had his struggles in an up-and-down season and only awoken to face his true nemesis in the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In return, San Diego will receive the left-handed-hitting Grisham from Milwaukee. He might be best remembered as the man whose error in the 2019 Wild Card game allowed the Washington Nationals to move on to the next round. A .231/.328/.410 batting line doesn’t jump off the page, but he raked to the tune of .300/.407/.603 in the upper minors.

Across the two levels of the upper minors, Grisham slammed 26 total home runs and six in the Majors. It fills a desperate need as left-handed batters donning a Padres jersey combined to hit 40 home runs against right-handed batters all season.

Add that to some highly graded defense (despite the playoff error), and incredible upside (number 19 ranked Milwaukee prospect), and Grisham could be a mainstay in the Padres outfield until Taylor Trammell is ready for The Show.

Davies is essentially a right-handed Lauer. He won’t strike out a lot of people (5.75 K/9), but he did pitch 159.2 innings with a 3.55 ERA. He may have been getting lucky with that ERA as his 4.56 FIP/5.20 xFIP/5.43 SIERA indicate that Davies had favor with Lady Luck.

Pomeranz was the ace of the Padres in 2016, even appearing in the All-Star Game in San Diego. After getting traded to Boston for Anderson Espinoza, he has had some good seasons and some bad seasons. After struggling with San Francisco in 2019, he was traded to the Brewers and moved to the bullpen.

He did nothing but thrive once he got there. Out of the bullpen, Pomeranz pitched 26.1 innings with a 2.36 ERA and an insane 15.38 K/9. His advance statistics backed him up as well as his 2.68 FIP/2.14 xFIP/2.11 SIERA was all close enough to his ERA. His 45.7% K rate since moving to the bullpen was also better than Kirby Yates‘ 41.6% K rate.

He’ll join a bullpen that currently employs Jose Castillo and Matt Strahm as left-handed specialists. In addition to pitchers like Andres Munoz and Michel Baez, San Diego’s 2020 bullpen is looking to be even stronger than 2019.

7 thoughts on “AJ Preller has a busy day, acquires Grisham and Davies from Milwaukee; signs Drew Pomeranz

  1. Do you guys watch the games? I mean honestly. Do you? My background is as a below average D1 baseball player who has some limited baseball coaching background. Urias, who I would have loved to be our everyday second baseman, was called up 3 times and struggled mightily to hit his weight with no power, stolen bases, etc. Secondly, he is yet another right handed guy on a team with no balance that cannot hit righties. Third, and most importantly, he had the yips. He’s one Spring training from Chuck Knoblauch. I have no idea. He may become a 10 year All-star, but I am happy with the deal. If the team, refocusing its efforts in development, didn’t like the chances of Urias panning out, I think that’s probably the case. How many guys have the Padres let go of recently who went on to be studs elsewhere? They gave him three chances to make it and/or improve in the minors as a result of his struggle in SD.
    Additionally, have you seen all of the major league options as FA available? The second base market is so flooded, the Orioles couldn’t get an A ball guy for Villar, an All-star, ultimately dumping him. We will be fine at second with Abrams, X, etc. soon being the prospect you root for at the position. It’s an organizational position of strength.

    You should have known this type of trade was coming. If they were keeping him, they’d have auditioned him at second, not Tatis’s position, last year. This was inevitable. And, if you correctly view prospects as stocks, Urias is another can’t hit/throwing balls in the stands audition away from being a mirage. I hope for the best for him, but this is likely best for the Padres.

    I don’t know much they received in return, but Grisham at least has the potential to be a fit/need. The Brewers made him Yelich’s replacement. Not Corey Ray, etc. He has left-handed plate discipline, great defensive reputation, and can play any outfield position with speed. Fangraphs says: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/analyzing-the-brewers-and-padres-swap-of-young-big-leaguers/. I will trust them over a bunch of belly itchers. 🙂

    I also like the focus of deepening the bullpen more than adding $200 million starters. Gore and Patino could be dominant starters for 500 K in half a season. Pomeranz is a known quantity as a clubhouse guy, and his reliever numbers are dominant. Dominant.

    Consider this: you can’t have it both ways. You can’t laud the prospect we trade or release, claiming Preller doesn’t know value/talent when he brought that talent/value here in the first place. You can’t criticize a bullpen add when guys like Yates, Hand, etc are his calls: guys who struggled as starters but had huge upsides as relief pieces. Putting together an everyday lineup at the major league level is what this baseball ops group has not proven capable of. So far. Both of these moves are at least projectable.

    Keep the faith.

    1. Oh, and, my “prediction” is a FA sign of Bettances. Bettances, Pomeranz, and Yates 7, 8, 9? Could be amazing. Munoz, Strahm, Castillo, a fixed Reyes…filthy.

      Who knows. But, I think good things are happening.

      My only fear is trading Myers for nothing and adding prospects and/or money to do so. Dude can play. Get him right.

  2. So, are you saying he was only the #19th rated prospect for the Brewers? And the padres gave up a top 20 prospect in all of baseball for him, a guy who would not crack the top 30 , or 50, for the padres entire team?

    1. According to the U-T, Grisham squeezed in the Brewers top 30 (28) at the beginning of 2019. They have several better OF prospects than Grisham. It should not surprise anyone if he does not make the ML team to start next year.

  3. “Preller the Padre Killer.”

    Perhaps he was pressured into making a move. Even then, getting embarrassed nationally didn’t have to happen. No one is this bad at what they do. Something else has to explain such a horrible move.

  4. I was afraid this was going to happen. Now all GM’s are in a race to take advantage of Preller. Just when there was light at the end of the tunnel, and hope for a decent year this year, and even more beyond, AJ pulls another AJ. The Padres are doomed, again.

    This is yet another maddening move where the Padres go backwards, not forward. They give up way too much value (someone noted there is even more going to the Brewers!!! are you kidding me?!?!)

    They need longterm upside at pitching with pitchers who can go deep into games. Preller, instead, gets an average-ish starter who cannot make it through the lineup on the 3rd go around. He can’t even go 6 innings, which will further drain the bullpen, which, we learned through many painful games last year. Furthermore, Davies is controllable for only 2 years, and Lauer (who is also average-ish, but was improving) is controllable for FIVE!

    As for Grisham: another corner OF with iffy defense, at best? Preller, again, tries to corner the market on corner outfielders. “…but he raked to the tune of .300/.407/.603 in the upper minors.” This is grossly inflated and misleading. These numbers are due to the AAA effect, as Padres fans should be very familiar with (see El Paso, see Ty France, see every starting player on the AAA team). He never had power, and then he hits 26 dingers in less than a hundred games (between AA and AAA)? To his credit, he used to steal a lot of bases when he was younger, and hopefully has a high OBP, but who knows about that, the Padres have a lot of guys like that in the minors who never pan out. And everyone hit 20+ HR’s last year, yet Preller bites on inflated AAA stats, and sells low on his top prospects. Not a winning combo.

    Signing Pomeranz to 2 years (as most predicted) would have been good, to very good. 3 years would have been more than iffy, given his age; yet 4 years guaranteed is absurd. Add him to the list the Padres will soon be paying millions of dollars to not play for them.

    The Brewers get their starting shortstop for 6 years! (who can also play multiple positions) Urias has tremendous upside, and he could easily be another Anthony Rizzo (whom the Pads give up on, only to be a stud for someone else).

    Also, this greatly helps their biggest rival, the Dodgers (see Lauer’s stats against them). If Preller is hired by the Dodgers after he gets canned then I want an investigation! (I am only partially kidding)

    Perhaps the most surprising thing is that Preller didn’t trade for a starting first baseman, but there is still time.

    [they added 3 and traded 2, so who gets cut? this, too, will likely hurt]

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