The stove is officially...well, maybe not scorching hot in Seattle, but at least a little warm, as the Mariners made their first major-ish move of the off-season, trading RHP Isaiah Campbell for INF Luis Urías from the Red Sox.
As an avowed Contact Hitter Lover, I’ve been a fan of Urías since he was a prospect in San Diego’s system, where Baseball America awarded him “Best Strike Zone Discipline” and “Best Hitter for Average” in back-to-back years. But the Padres decided they wanted to go bigger in their infield, and swapped Urías and Eric Lauer to Milwaukee for Zach Davies and Trent Grisham. Urías enjoyed a couple solid years in Milwaukee before struggling in 2023 while dealing with an injured hamstring. He returned, but not to the same level of player he’d been, and after fewer than 70 plate appearances and an option back to Triple-A, the Brewers sent him to Boston for a minor-league pitcher, Bradley Blalock, who was coming off TJ surgery.
I know that “contact-oriented second baseman with little power coming off a down year” is going to give you all Kolten Wong flashbacks, and that’s fair. But there is a key difference: Urías, signed out of Mexico by the Padres in 2013, is still 26, and there’s good reason to believe that the hamstring injury that sapped his power and ultimately contact abilities last season was a blip in the road and not the ravages of Father Time setting in. And while he never had Wong’s complete allergy to striking out, Urías’s pitch selection is so good that he can seek out pitches he can drive and damage, finding barrels to maximize his moderate power output. Perhaps you saw him hit this tank off Japanese phenom Roki Sasaki during this year’s WBC?
IT'S GONE!! Luis Urias 3-run shot— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) March 21, 2023
: WBC on FS1 pic.twitter.com/FUTLyWKdnU
And there’s another key difference: Urías won’t be depended on as Plan A this off-season, as the Mariners already have Josh Rojas installed as the lefty-hitting strong side of the platoon. This frees the Mariners up—theoretically—to make a bigger upgrade in the outfield or elsewhere, including using just plain old money to get there. It’s not a super-exciting opening salvo, but it does address the contact issue and the second base issue in one swoop.
He also loves hitting off Gerritt Cole, for some reason, and we support that around here:
LUIS URIAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/MRNBLdlEJM— The Pesky Report (@PeskyReport) August 19, 2023
In exchange, the Mariners will bid farewell to their 2019 comp round pick Isaiah Campbell, who was serviceable out of the Mariners’ bullpen this year but will immediately leap up the depth chart in Boston’s beleaguered bullpen. One last “woo pig” then to the former Razorback, with hopes he enjoyed his time as an Arkansas Traveler getting to extend his college glory days for just a bit longer.