Milwaukee Brewers: The Search for Security at Shortstop
The Milwaukee Brewers made a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays on May 21, acquiring SS Willy Adames and RHP Trevor Richards in exchange for JP Feyereisen and Drew Rasmussen, prompting a lot of discussion about why the Brewers traded for a shortstop after dealing fan favorite Orlando Arcia in the first week of the season.
Orlando Arcia was a known quantity, he was going to bat in the low-to-mid .200s and play solid defense, albeit not as good of defense as the general fanbase seemed to think he was playing.
Arcia struggled defensively at times during the 2019 season and in the pandemic shortened season Orlando didn’t do enough to wow Craig Counsell and the front office of the Brewers. Arcia did bat .260 in 2020, his highest mark since 2017 but had an on base percentage at just .317, meaning Arcia was an out 68.3% of the time he came up to the plate.
That lack of production, along with the trade of Trent Grisham and Zach Davies to acquire Luis Urias and Eric Lauer, prompted the Brewers to consider using Arcia as a third baseman in spring training.
That brings us to Luis Urias, who is three years younger than Arcia and a very similar hitter and defender to Orlando. Urias is under team control until 2026 and if the Brewers want to find out what they have in Urias they have to give him playing time.
Luis Urias has struggled in 2021 committing nine errors in 40 games played prompting fans to ask why the Brewers traded Arcia in the first place.
To Urias’ credit, he has shown that he’s got some pop in his bat, Urias is third on the Brewers in home runs this season with five, trailing only Avisail Garcia and the Mayor of Ding Dong City Travis Shaw. Urias is on pace to hit 20 homers this season, a mark that would best Orlando Arcia’s highest season total by five.
After Luis Urias was starting to commit errors more frequently, accompanied with slumps at the plate, the Brewers made a move to acquire another shortstop they had their eye on for a while, Willy Adames.
Acquiring Adames means a lot for the Brewers, they get a high character shortstop who has performed in the highest pressure situations, is a better hitter and defender than both Urias and Arcia, and allows Counsell to use Urias as a utility player. Urias has already logged double digit innings played at second and third base, leading me to think if Adames can lock down shortstop and Urias can play better defensively at third base, the Brewers could have a 25 year old shortstop and 24 year old third baseman and be set on the left side of the infield for years.
Urias and Adames were both crucial to the Brewers win against the Padres last Thursday, Adames with his bat driving in four of the Brewers six runs, including his first home run as a Brewer, an absolute bomb in the seventh inning that put the Brewers up by two.
Not only did the bat from Adames make the difference but also his arm played a key role on this relay from Jackie Bradley Jr. to throw out Eric Hosmer at the plate and keep the score tied in the eighth.
Then in the top of the 10th inning Luis Urias showed his defensive capabilities keeping the Padres from taking the lead in the top of the tenth inning, putting out two of three outs in the inning from third base on sharply hit ground balls. Leading to a walk off hit by Jackie Bradley Jr.
Overall, Willy Adames has been a great addition to the Brewers already in the short time he’s been in Milwaukee, Arcia’s time had come and gone, and now Craig Counsell has a high caliber utilityman in Urias that can start every day at three positions whenever he’s needed.
The search for a long-term solution at shortstop has been a bumpy road. The Brewers gave Arcia ample opportunities but they wanted improvement and that wasn’t happening. So they made a change to Urias, but instead of a smooth transition they were met with more bumps in the road. They quickly moved on to Adames and things have seemed pretty smooth so far.
Finding a solution at shortstop has proven to be evasive for the Brewers in recent years, and not just starting with the Orlando Arcia era. There’s been plenty of turnover over the years and plenty of disappointments. The Brewers are once again hoping they have found the solution, this time in Willy Adames.