Did the Padres give up on Luis Urias too early?

Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: USA Today Sports

The San Diego Padres dealt Luis Urias to the Milwaukee Brewers this week. But did the team give up too early on the Mexican infielder?

In baseball, as in life, sometimes you just have to read the signs.

For the last 12-16 months, the San Diego Padres have sent signals that they were not pleased with Luis Urias. The trade Wednesday to the Milwaukee Brewers should come as no surprise, as the whispers of a possible deal had been circling for the past few months. Urias seemed to be in the center of several rumors as the Padres look to upgrade their squad.

Upgrade? Urias is 22 and seasoned for Major League action. By losing his potential, did the Padres really upgrade their squad?

A hamstring injury sidelined Luis Urias at the end of the 2018 baseball season. The infielder amassed 48 at-bats in 12 games for the Friars recording a .618 OPS in his first taste of Major League action. The early reviews were not pleasant for the right-handed hitter, but there seemed to be time for him to hone his craft. Playing in 120 games at the Triple-A level and producing a .845 OPS for El Paso, Urias was eager for a shot at an everyday job at the Major League level in 2019.

Instead of allowing for that the to happen, the Padres signed Ian Kinsler last winter to a two-year/$8-million dollar contract. In doing that, the Padres virtually guaranteed that Luis Urias would start the season in the minors. This was a bit of a surprising move as he had previously checked all the boxes in terms of offensive production from a second baseman at the minor league level. Perhaps the step was to challenge him to improve in his abilities. More often than not, the little things about a player make the difference. Clearly, the Padres had an idea of what Urias was lacking in terms of taking his game to the next level.

For quite a few years, Padres’ fans have heard about the Mexican infielder and his unreal plate discipline. Urias continually struck out fewer times than he walked as a minor leaguer, and that is a trait A.J. Preller, and his front office covets. In 302 plate appearances at the Major League level, Urias simply did not display that ability. Quite frankly, he looked lost at the plate and was beat by pitchers quite a few different ways. Three hundred times at the plate is a little early to pass judgment, but the signs were not trending the correct direction.

Instead of shortening up his swing and utilizing what had carried him the Majors, Urias developed a leg kick and started to drive the ball more. Playing in the PCL with juiced baseballs and favorable ballparks, Urias put up a .998 OPS and a .600 slugging percentage. Mission accomplished for the infielder as far as tapping into his power potential, but he also struck out 62 times in 295 at-bats. PCL power will not translate to the Major League level. The small middle infielder will never be a dangerous power threat. Attempting to be that is just a waste of his god-given talents, which consists of hand-eye control and plate discipline.

For the Padres, the injury to their franchise shortstop in 2019 allowed the team to play Luis Urias at the position to end the season. Urias played 25 games at short, only committing one error for San Diego. He proved his worth at shortstop and arguably boosted his value on the trade market. The Brewers intend to utilize him at the position to begin the 2020 season.

Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Padres are reportedly now on the lookout for a second baseman. Luckily for them, there are several on the free-agent market who could make a lot of sense for the Padres in 2020 and beyond. A.J. Cassavell reports that Preller is looking at several options through trade or free agency.

Did the Padres give up too early on Luis Urias?

The team has all the tools to measure his abilities adequately. The Padres have cultivated him since he signed with the team at the age of 16. They may have soured on some of the little things about Urias, but they still valued him as a player.

This trade may be more about depth than anything else. San Diego has several prospects in the minors about ready for Major League service time (Esteban Quiroz and Ivan Castillo), and they also have a few men lower in the ranks (CJ Abrams, Xavier Edwards, and Tucupita Marcano) as well. The second base position is not an area of weakness for the San Diego Padres and their farm system. Left-handed hitting outfielders is a weakness, and they addressed that in acquiring Trent Grisham.

Only time will tell if the Padres gave up on Luis Urias too early. The writing was on the wall, though. Both sides probably needed to move on, and a fair deal was found in which the Padres gain in an area they lack. It is difficult to lose a player that you see blossom before your eyes, but the Padres’ farm system is so stacked with future Major Leaguers, that this will be a continual thing as this team rises to relevancy.

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James Clark
James was born and raised in America's Finest City. He is a passionate baseball fan with even more passion towards his hometown Padres. Editor-In-Chief of EastVillageTimes.com. Always striving to bring you the highest quality in San Diego Sports News. Original content, with original ideas, that's our motto. Enjoy.

16 thoughts on “Did the Padres give up on Luis Urias too early?

  1. I think both teams filled a need. I am not worried about 2B, and what we saw from Urias is well, meh, but he will improve. Grisham for Urias, certainly appears to be a push. Davies for Lauer, about the same. Clearly, Lauer was unable to compete within the division, except for pitching well against the Dodgers, but the rest of the division was a disaster, in particular against the Rox. But with Urias, the 2B prospects of Edwards and Miller, along with others, created a log jam….Urias became the odd man out to get a better outfield prospect. Hope it works for all.

  2. I think they gave up too soon. There is a real chance that this will turn out to be another Anthony Rizzo situation.

    If Urias can be coached to be a better major league hitter instead of swinging for the fences every time up and striking out much of the time (I exaggerate, but most of the lineup seems to have this problem), I believe he can be a solid major league player.

    But that might take a year or two.

    Since the Padres are in a “must win 2020” situation, the long run is of less concern.

  3. The 2017 Luis Urias was what I hoped we would see after he realized he’s never going to be another Altuve. Unfortunately, his contact rate dropped from the high 80’s-low 90’s (which made him exceptional OBP) to the mid to high 70’s, which is great for a HR hitter but not for a table setter. Moreover, his previously excellent eye with walks over strikeouts went out the window when he hit the majors. What he saw was another RHH who had a relatively low OBP and high strikeout rate, trying for the fences, with a passable arm and range at SS (he certainly had enough for 2b), and no speed on the basepaths. Milwaukee is gambling on the pre-2018 Urias but with a smaller ballpark can even accept the current Urias since he’s bound to hit better than Arcia. If they move Hiura to a different position, then it will be even better for Luis. It was a gamble to take Grisham, but he always had a high OBP, even in his rookie season, relatively low strikeout rate, has shown power recently, hits LH, and is a decent OF. We currently don’t have that in the system this year and need it to compete in 2020. It is not a spectacular deal one is waiting for but it is a step in the right direction. Loved the pre-2018 Urias, but the Urias I saw in the last two years – not so much.

  4. Not everyone becomes a successful mlb star, there are way more failures and what they did in the
    minors is a poor indicator of the future.
    When you get your shot (300 abs is plenty) you’ve got to produce. He didn’t offensively and was found wanting at SS defensively. Odds favor the Pads made the right decision here.

    We needed a LH bat in Center more than a RH poor hitting 2b. We got what we could for him.

  5. The Padres traded from a position of organizational depth, middle infielders, for a fairly clear area of need, left handed hitting OFs. This is understandable.
    Regardless of how these players develop, the team seems to have improved for 2020, which is going to be Preller’s last year without significant improvement. Trade makes sense from this angle, too.
    Lastly, as James laid out, the club has seen this guy for 6 years. There were issues with his swing, and concerns about his coachability. For all those who feel we just traded away a future star, there is no way Urias will make it in the majors with that swing, let alone become a star.

  6. Hopefully, this trade works out well for both teams.

    But, to be honest, I generally feel when the Padres make trades, we seem to provide more value to the other team than we get back.
    In this case, we owe a PTBNL or cash?? Shouldn’t that be the other way around (at minimum)?

    I get it, Urias thinks he is a power hitter. I watched him stand at home plant twice in a game against the Red Sox, thinking he had hit them for home runs. Only to see Betts catch one at the wall (it was a nice catch, but not out) and the other well short of the wall. Not good dude!

    Maybe with the Brewers he can be that home run guy (the park they play in favors the long ball a bit more that Petco after all). Or, he will be the player the Padres hoped he would be (get on base, smart base running, score runs, play solid defense).

    We needed a decent LH hitting OF option. However, the Grisham track record is historically a one hit wonder looking at his minor league stats (which are partially inflated by the Coors Field affect in the PCL). Maybe he will become who the Padres hope he will be (good defense, bit of power, low strike out rate, decent OBP). However, at this point…..he appears to be a platoon with Margot in CF.

    I like the kid (Grisham), just seems like we overpaid and Davies for Lauer just didn’t offset the cost sufficiently IMO.

  7. I agree that they gave up a tad too quickly but you should kind of do a tad better research. Ian Kinsler was signed with the assumption that Urias would take over Opening Day short stop. It had nothing to do with doubting Urias but not thinking Tatis would be up yet. Tatis was a last weekend addition. Ian Kinsler was signed long before the decision to bring Tatis up had occures.

  8. I like the trade. Urias is a good young player but is not someone who would hit for power in the majors not is he a base stealer. What you have is someone with a good OBP decent average and good defense. We have better choices coming up and like has been posted there are some good free agents out there in the meantime.

    1. I hope you like Greg Garcia as your regular 2nd baseman because that is what the Padres are looking at the next 2 seasons.

      1. Pete, not sure if Luis is your neighbor or what. There are multiple options out there either thru trade or free agency that will be better for the next couple years

  9. I would have loved to see Urias play for the Padres, but left handed hitting was our need. We are deep with talented middle infielders. AJ traded from a position of strength. This will be an even trade with both prospects becoming Good to above average players and the pitchers providing the innings and average to above average years for each team. Neither team will feel the trade was a bust but in the end neither team will be vastly advantaged over the other.

  10. I was concerned about this, too. The last time the Padres traded away a 22-year-old second baseman, his name was Roberto Alomar. Yes, I realize the circumstances were different. But in both cases, you had a (very!) young second baseman brimming with talent.

    Clearly, Urias was overmatched in 2019. But he’s only 22. That’s still very young. We forget that, especially when 20-year-old Fernando Tatis did so well last year. But Tatis is a once-in-a-lifetime phenom. Most guys don’t mature into big leaguers until they’re 24 or 25…which brings us to another young talent the Padres gave up on way too early: Anthony Rizzo. With the Padres, the then-21-year-old batted .141 with a 51 OPS+ and 41 k’s in 128 at-bats. The Padres then traded him to Chicago. Though he struggled a bit the next two seasons, he blossomed at the age of 24, and has emerged as one of the elite first basemen in MLB.

    So iid the Padres give up on Luis Urias too early? I’m fearful that the answer is yes, but time will tell.

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