In November 2019, the Milwaukee Brewers traded Trent Grisham and Zach Davies to the San Diego Padres for Eric Lauer and Luis Urias. This traded addressed needs that both teams were looking to fill and that sentiment was echoed by both front offices when the deal was made.
Now entering the third season after this deal, including the Covid-19 shortened 2020 season. Let’s take a look at how this deal has shaken out.
Revisiting the Eric Lauer and Luis Urias trade for the Milwaukee Brewers
Eric Lauer didn’t leap off the page as a starter coming over from the Padres, with a 4.40 ERA, 9.8 hits per nine innings, 8.25 strikeouts per nine innings, a 2.45 strikeout to walk ratio and a 1.460 WHIP.
Lauer’s debut season with the Milwaukee Brewers didn’t go very well either, finishing with a 13.09 ERA in only four appearances and 11 innings pitched. That being said, Eric Lauer did deal with a shoulder injury and Covid-19 during the pandemic shortened season.
That brings us to 2021. Eric Lauer was fantastic as the Milwaukee Brewers number five starter last season, finishing with a 3.19 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 118.2 innings pitched. Lauer posted a career high strikeout rate at 23.9 percent, a welcomed sight for a pitcher known for inducing soft contact outs. What caused such a dramatic leap of improvement? The Milwaukee Brewers pitching machine as they call it.
Eric Lauer and the Brewers made some changes in his mechanics between 2020 and 2021 to help protect his shoulder, it paid dividends in 2021 and now in 2022, Lauer is even better.
The above tweet is in reference to his performance on Sunday Night Baseball where Eric Lauer absolutely dazzled, racking up a career high 13 strikeouts in just six innings of work and needing just 98 pitches to do so. 10 of the 13 strikeouts were swinging.
Eric Lauer joined Teddy Higuera as the only left handed pitchers in Milwaukee Brewers history to strikeout 13 batters in a single game.
So far in 2022, Eric Lauer has his ERA down to 2.20, working a fastball that climbs to 96 MPH, just one of 13 left handed starters to throw that hard this season, and a curveball that drops as low as 80 MPH. Eric Lauer has added velocity to four of the five pitches he throws since joining the Brewers.
The biggest jump in velocity has been seen with his cutter, which went from 87 MPH on average in 2022, to 92 MPH on average in 2022. In 2022, Lauer has raised his strikeouts per nine innings to 12.7, dropped his WHIP to 1.041 while also walking fewer batters, just 2.2 walks per nine innings and raising his strikeout to walk ratio to 5.75!
Eric Lauer has been overshadowed at times by the rest of the Milwaukee Brewers pitching staff, however going back to last June, Lauer has been among the league’s best. Since June 27th, Eric Lauer is tied for third in most outings of five innings pitched and one earned run or less, trailing only teammate Corbin Burnes and Julio Urias of the Dodgers.
Since June 21st last season, Lauer is 7-2 with a 2.23 ERA, 99 strikeouts, and only 18 walks in 97 innings over 18 games. Eric Lauer’s pitching alone is almost enough to call this trade a win for the Milwaukee Brewers.
2021 started off a bit shaky for Luis Urias, early in the season he dealt with some error issues at shortstop. Then in May the Milwaukee Brewers traded for a shortstop, Willy Adames, in a surprising move following the trade of Orlando Arcia to the Atlanta Braves not long before that. The trade resulted in Luis Urias making the move to a “super utility” role and what turned out to be a very solid season for Urias. Actually, the argument could be made that he was the Brewers second best hitter last season.
in 2021 Luis Urias slashed .249/.345/.445, hit 23 home runs, second on the team, drove in 75 runs, second on the team and was third on the team in both OPS and doubles. Luis Urias was also a bit more reliable defensively at third base than he was at shortstop.
Urias is still young as well, he’ll turn 25 in June so he still has plenty of time to improve, he hasn’t made his 2022 Brewers debut yet as he is currently in AA with the Biloxi Shuckers rehabbing from a quad strain.
Revisiting the Eric Lauer and Luis Urias trade for the San Diego Padres
If you proposed the question “who won this trade?” after the 2020 season, the answer would have been the San Diego Padres. Trent Grisham won the Gold Glove award during the pandemic shortened season.
Turn the calendar a year and that answer likely changes. In 2021 he batted .242/.327/.413, Grisham hit 15 home runs and drove in 62 runs, all numbers lower than that of Luis Urias, albeit with better defense.
Grisham is also off to a slow start thus far in 2022, batting .134/.266/.239, just 9 hits in 67 at bats and only one home run so far. It’s early in the season but Grisham is currently striking out 28.8 percent of his at bats, a career high, and his exit velocity and hard hit ball percentage are both at career lows.
It’s possible that he turns it around this season and he still plays elite defense, but the argument could be made that Luis Urias is better for the Brewers than Grisham is for the Padres because of his bat.
Zach Davies has had the opposite trajectory that Eric Lauer has had since this trade, Zach Davies was very good in the shortened 2020 season for the San Diego Padres, posting a career low 2.73 ERA. However in the three years since this trade was made, Davies has played on three different teams and his earned run average has doubled.
After being part of the trade that sent Yu Darvish to the Padres, Zach Davies spent 2021 pitching for the Chicago Cubs, he finished with a 5.70 ERA in 32 starts and 148 innings pitched while leading major league baseball in walks.
Zach Davies signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks for the 2022 season and is currently struggling out of the gate, so far over four starts and 18.1 innings, Davies has a 5.40 ERA allowing 17 hits and 10 free passes, with 14 strikeouts, a strikeout to walk ratio of just 1.40. It feels like an easy call to make to say that Eric Lauer is doing much better things for the Milwaukee Brewers than Zach Davies has done for the Padres and beyond.
Trent Grisham has time to improve for the Padres, but looking at 2022 and beyond, with the contributions the Brewers have gotten from Urias and Lauer, and as dominant as Eric Lauer has been dating back to last June, I think it’s time to safely declare this trade a win for the Brewers.