MILWAUKEE — After moving to third base this spring, Orlando Arcia is moving to Atlanta.
Sealing the fact that Luis Urías is now the primary shortstop in Milwaukee, the Brewers traded Arcia to the Braves on Tuesday for a pair of Major League-ready right-handers, Chad Sobotka and Patrick Weigel. The latter was Atlanta’s No. 12-ranked prospect, per MLB Pipeline, and he will immediately join the Brewers’ Top 30.
Arcia, 26, was Milwaukee’s Opening Day shortstop in four straight seasons from 2017-20, but while he has been a terrific postseason performer, he has yet to develop into the all-around performer the Brewers expected when he was their top prospect and an MLB Pipeline Top 100 Prospect upon arriving in the Major Leagues in August 2016 with a reputation as a sensational defender. After a particularly disappointing 2019 season at the plate and in the field, the Brewers acquired a competitor for Arcia in former Padres infielder Urías, and this spring, the club essentially made the transition to Urías as their primary shortstop.
Arcia saw most of his spring action at third base, appearing there in three of the Brewers’ first four regular-season games and starting the last two. He was off to a 1-for-11 start to the regular season after hitting .191 (9-for-47) in Spring Training.
“I do want to take a moment here to recognize Orlando’s contributions to the organization, and contributions to some of the biggest moments in, really, Brewers history, and certainly recent Brewers history,” said president of baseball operations David Stearns, who noted that Arcia and Manny Piña were neck and neck as the longest-tenured players on the team with Ryan Braun’s departure last year. “Frankly, he went through ups and downs. This wasn’t smooth sailing for a top prospect breaking into baseball, but I think Orlando always handled himself well, always showed up to the park with a smile and, as we saw, routinely contributed in big moments.”
In parts of six big league seasons, Arcia owns a .244/.293/.364 slash line in the regular season and .295/.311/.568 in 45 plate appearances over three different postseasons. He is earning $2 million this season, and he has one more year of club control before reaching free agency in the 2022-23 offseason.
The Braves, who have an everyday shortstop in Dansby Swanson and a right-handed-hitting third baseman in Austin Riley, optioned Arcia to their alternate training site. Stearns said the Brewers had been talking to the Braves and other clubs about Arcia for several months.
Sobotka, 27, appeared in the Majors for the Braves in each of the past three years and has a 5.36 ERA in 47 innings, with 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings. His best showing was as a rookie in 2018, when he had a 1.88 ERA in 14 appearances down the stretch. In ’19, he made Atlanta’s Opening Day roster and had a 6.21 ERA in 32 games. He was not on Atlanta’s Opening Day roster this year.
Weigel, 26, was already a top pitching prospect for the Braves before undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2017 and missing the majority of the ’18 season. He had a productive year in ’19 at the Double-A and Triple-A levels, with a 2.73 ERA in 28 games (18 starts), and made a brief big league debut — one appearance — with the Braves in 2020.
Both pitchers have one Minor League option remaining, and they will begin their Brewers tenures with the alternate training site group.
“We do think that continuing to ensure that we have the pitching needed to make it through this season is important,” Stearns said. “These are two guys with big, power arms — very big people in general — and we think they’ll be able to help us through the course of the season. The flexibility to add to the number of pitchers who do have the ability to spend time at Triple-A, as well as the big leagues, is important.”
Perhaps just as importantly, Urías no longer has to look over his shoulder. His debut season with the Brewers in 2020 was ruined by a hand injury in the spring and a bout of COVID-19 in the summer. He posted a .971 OPS in Spring Training ’21.
“It wasn’t too long ago when he was considered one of the top prospects in baseball, and it’s also easy to forget that he’s only 23 years old,” Stearns said of Urías. “Because he made broke into the big leagues at such a young age, because he rocketed through the Minor Leagues so quickly, he’s still a very young player, so it’s natural for the learning process to continue. That’s what we’ve seen. As he gets more experience, as he gets more comfortable, I think we’ll see him continue to flourish and contribute to our club.”