Significant Time Missed by Luis Urias Spells Trouble for Brewers at SS

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 27: Luis Urias #9 of the San Diego Padres throws to first base during a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at PETCO Park on August 27, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 27: Luis Urias #9 of the San Diego Padres throws to first base during a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at PETCO Park on August 27, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

In a recent report we learned that Luis Urias hurt his wrist in Winter Ball. If he misses significant time, it could spell trouble for the Milwaukee Brewers at SS.

Of the Milwaukee Brewers’ many moves this offseason, perhaps the most significant was landing shortstop Luis Urias from the San Diego Padres as a part of a trade package. During his time in the minors, Urias was touted as one of baseball’s best prospects and got his first real taste of steady playing time at the big league level in 2019.

Now, Urias’ numbers weren’t eye-popping by any means as he slashed .223/.329/.326 but at just 22-years-old, don’t let that small sample size take the shine off of his potential. During his minor league career that spanned six seasons, Urias slashed .308/.397/.433 in over 2,400 plate appearances.

While Urias has the ability to play multiple positions within the infield, shortly after being acquired GM David Stearns made it quite clear that he would be competing with Orlando Arcia for playing time at shortstop:

"“Look, we did not have good SS production last year, and we have been open about that. For us to ultimately do what we want to do … production from that position has to improve. Having competition at that position is not a bad thing.”"

Unfortunately, with Spring Training just on the horizon, the Milwaukee Brewers have received some potentially devastating news as it was recently reported that Urias suffered a wrist injury while playing in the Mexican Pacific Winter League.

Playing Winter Ball is a common offseason practice for many MLB players and Urias was putting together a solid performance. In his 141 plate appearances with Yaquis de Obregon, he’d slash .288/.400/.458.

At the moment we don’t have specifics on what the injury is, just that Urias experienced wrist soreness as reported by Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and that the Milwaukee Brewers pulled him from the Winter Ball League. It’s also worth pointing out that surgery hasn’t been ruled out yet either.

So now with the potential that Urias could miss some time – and who knows for how long – the Milwaukee Brewers could very quickly find themselves with a less than ideal situation at shortstop if he is out for an extended period of time.

In the quote from Stearns above, he summed it up perfectly in saying that the Brewers didn’t have good shortstop production in 2019. In fact, Arcia has really struggled the last two seasons, outside of a nice postseason performance in 2018.

During that span, Arcia would slash .228/.277/.333 with a wRC+ of only 61. Even his defense, which is what he is known for, dropped off last season and by a significant amount according to Statcast’s new metric Outs Above Average.

Once again, we don’t know the severity of Urias’ injury, but if he is going to miss considerable time,  there a few options. The first being on Milwaukee’s 40-man roster where they have Ronny Rodriguez and Mark Mathias who could potentially fill-in along side Arcia.

And then there is Eric Sogard who could take some at-bats at short, but his primary responsibility appears to be in a platoon role at third base with Jedd Gyorko.

Then a third option includes adding another shortstop to the mix from outside of the organization to compete with Arcia. However, prior to free agency even beginning, there were already limited options at the shortstop position and by now it’s fairly picked over. But two names still available include Jordy Mercer and Tim Beckham.

As you can see, none of these options are exactly ideal, but at this point I don’t think the Brewers can continue to rely solely on Arcia for an extended amount of time based on what we’ve seen from him over the last two seasons. Hopefully that changes, but it’s not something I’d bet on.

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The hope moving forward is that Urias won’t need surgery and that the time he misses is minimal. However if that isn’t the case, the Milwaukee Brewers could be in store for another long stretch with lack-luster production from the shortstop position.