FIrst, the “big” signing: Drew Pomeranz to a 4-year deal worth $34 million.
Steamer 2020 Projection: 60 IP, 3.68 ERA, 11 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 1.22 HR/9
It’s not a bad projection, really. It doesn’t really justify the $8-9 million a year Pomeranz is being promised, but the Padres did need a solid set-up man to their star closer Kirby Yates. Also, that projection is colored by the past couple of seasons struggling as a starter. It’s also important that Yates is going into his final season of control before free agency, so Pomeranz could well inherit that closer’s role. It may have been an overpay, but plenty of teams liked him. Likely it was the 4th year that got the job done for the Padres.
What’s more interesting is the trade the Padres made with the Brewers. On first glance, it looks like the Padres won this trade, but after looking into it further, it may be more balanced that you’d think.
Trent Grisham, OF
Zach Davies, RHP
.251/.340/.448, 21 HR, 66 R, 67 RBI, 9 SB
(Trent Clark and Trent Grisham are the same guy, by the way.)
After his big error in the last game of the season for the Brewers, Grisham’s run with the Brewers has come to an end. A former first-round pick who only recently found his bat, he had a nice rookie debut before that big error. Overall, though, Grisham was actually promising as a fielder in both center and left according to the advanced fielding metrics.
The Padres raised a lot of eyebrows when they traded their slugging left fielder Franmil Reyes away and received Taylor Trammell - who was not doing so well with the bat in the minors. Grisham is no Reyes, but he IS a better fielder than Reyes. Here are their fielding metrics from 2019:
Franmil Reyes -12 DRS, -6.4 UZR
Trent Grisham 5 DRS, +8.9 UZR
While his offensive debut was decent, he projects to be even better in 2020. Grisham looks to become the strong side of a platoon with Manuel Margot or Frenchy Cabrera in left or center field. His path to playing time in Milwaukee was less clear. So, it’s a positive move for him. The question is how much of his slightly above league-average potential with the bat going to be swallowed up by the pitcher-friendly PetCo Park.
174 IP, 5.41 ERA, 6.33 K/9, 2.97 BB/9, 1.13 HR/9
The other pitcher that the Padres acquired was Zach Davies. A guy who the Brewers often made sure never faced a lineup more than twice, Davies is a solid, if unspectacular pitcher. But, he is an upgrade over the starting pitcher that the Padres gave up. That might not be evident from the Steamer projection, but there’s a reason for that.
First of all, Davies is going to pitch a lot of games at PetCo Park, which has historically helped flyball pitchers like Davies. He doesn’t really strike guys out, and while he doesn’t walk that many guys, it’s more than you’d like from a low-strikeout guy. The Brewers did a good job managing him, and I’m sure the Padres kept this in mind.
2B/SS Luis Urias
LHP Eric Lauer
In return, the Padres jettisoned Luis Urias and left-handed starting pitcher Eric Lauer. Urias has been a bit frustrating in San Diego, where he hasn’t hit. Lauer has been passable, but not exciting. Of course, Urias has upside, but at shortstop - where he’s not quite as good at second - he’ll have to hit better. Miller Park, of course, is a lot friendlier to hitters than PetCo. So, if Urias is even league average, Grisham for Urias wouldn’t look so bad.
Eric Lauer isn’t as good as Davies has been, but Lauer’s track record is nowhere as long. In fact, he’s controlled through the 2024 season. Davies has only two years of team control remaining - but at a reasonable rate through arbitration.
Let’s look closer at who the Padres gave up.
102 IP, 4.32 ERA, 8.47 K/9, 3.21 BB/9, 1.39 HR/9
The projection is a bit wonky as it has Lauer splitting time between the rotation and the bullpen, although Milwaukee likely slots him right in as their fourth starter. At first glance he looks a lot better than Davies, and perhaps he will be. He was a league-average starter in 2019, and those don’t grow on trees. The real draw is Lauer has all those years of control - he’s a value play because he’s younger and cheaper.
Is Lauer actually better than Davies? Steamer seems to think he’s considerably better. That’s not most people’s thinking, though, as Davies has the stronger track record. He certainly strikes out more batters.
Luis Urias Steamer 2020 Projection (136 games): .248/.329/.391, 15 HR, 68 R, 56 RBI, 5 SB
Even with that low offensive projection, Urias should play a decent enough shortstop to make he and Grisham about even in value. Of course, Urias may hit better for the Brewers. But, even if he doesn’t, it may not be a total loss, considering that Orlando Arcia hasn’t worked out. Urias has the AAA numbers to offer hope, but so hasn’t Ty France (who now stands to benefit, actually.)
The trade does weaken the Padres at second base, but some combination of Greg Garcia, Ty France, and Ian Kinsler will probably work. Esteban Quiroz is also another option.(Plus, 2019 Gold Glove winner Yolmer Sanchez is out there, too.) It’s a price worth paying to solidify the outfield, though, even if it also results in a bit of a playing time logjam.
Overall, the Padres appear to be ahead in this trade. But, there’s enough upside with both Urias and Lauer long-term that the true winner of this deal is still to be determined. I like this deal for the Padres, but the Brewers made a savvy value play that saves them money and delivers some upside. The Padres liked Grisham and Davies better - and it’s not hard to see why. What they do in the next couple of seasons will determine who won, but right now, it’s more even than you’d think.