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World Baseball Classic Semifinals: Mexico v Japan Photo by Gene Wang/Getty Images

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Meet The New Guy: Luis Urias

He’s probably the starting second basemen on Opening Day 2024

Who is he and where did he come from?

He’s 26-year-old Luis Urias, Mexican National teammate of Jarren Duran and Alex Verdugo and brother of Ramon Urias of the Baltimore Orioles. The Red Sox just traded for him from the Milwaukee Brewers amidst a flurry of activity on trade deadline day oh wait, he represents literally the only move they made.

Is he the boring Urias brother, or the fun one who looks like he’s doing yoga in the batters box?

The fun one! Look at this crazy stance! That takes some core strength, I tell ya.

What position does he play?

Like almost every single position player Chaim Bloom has ever targeted, he plays multiple positions, as his defensive career has been almost evenly split between second base, third base, and shortstop. He doesn't possess an outstanding glove at any of those positions — and is definitely weakest at short — but he’s competent enough at second and third.

Is he any good?

Yeah, he’s a nice little player, actually. His offensive value is built around an excellent batting eye, as his 10.3% walk rate would be second on the Red Sox this year behind only Triston Casas. He does not hit the ball hard, but he has pull side power that led to 23 homers in 150 games in 2021 and would play real well at Fenway. That 2021 season represents his best year in the big leagues so far, as he slashed .249/.345/.445. He put up a wRC+ of 112 that year, which was the third-best mark in all of baseball amongst both second basemen third basemen, behind only Marcus Semien and Trea Turner at second, and Austin Riley and Rafael Devers at third.

Tl;dr: when he’s at his best he’s not quite an All-Star level guy, but he’s a solid contributor that any team would like to have.

Oh, so the Sox must have given up a lot to get him, huh?

No! They did not! They acquired him in exchange for Bradley Blalock, a mid-tier pitching prospect who hadn’t advanced beyond high-A, and whom the Red Sox would’ve needed to assign to the 40-man roster this offseason in order to protect in the Rule 5 draft. They traded someone who had little value to the organization in exchange for someone who could be a starter on the big league team for the next couple of years. Even if it doesn’t work out for some reason, this move is an absolute win.

So why did the Brewers do it, then?

Well, remember all that stuff I wrote in the “Is he any good” section? The catch here is that only applies to the 2021-22 version of Luis Urías. The 2023 version of Luis Urías injured his hamstring on Opening Day and then missed the first two months of the season. When he came back, he appeared to have completely forgotten how to hit, as he slashed just .145/.299/.236 in the month of June.

The Brewers sent him down to AAA to try to recover his stroke. He did show improvement down there, hitting .250/.392/.447 with 4 homers in 20 games in July. Given that he’s still young has no significant injury history, there was little reason to believe Urias wouldn’t be able to return to form eventually. But one of the Brewers top prospects is a second baseman and Urias is arbitration-eligible and due for a small raise. So while it’s always possible that the Brewers know something no one else does, it looks like they’re just being incredibly cheap.

What’s he doing in his picture up there?

Rounding the bases after homering for Team Mexico in the WBC, while he can’t help but think “huh, it sure is weird that Jarren Duran is only the home run sombrero guy on this team, even though he’s actually our best player.”

Show me a cool highlight.

Here’s what he did in order to earn that home run trot: he homered off Roki Sasaki, one of the best young pitchers in the world. Looking good in that sombrero, Jarren!

What’s his role on the 2023 Red Sox?

This trade was more of a move for the 2024-25 Red Sox than the 2023 team, as he’s already been assigned to Worcester to continue his post-recovery work. But having said that, it’s not like Yu Chang, Pablo Reyes, or Christian Arroyo are obviously better options than him. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him up in Boston soon, and he may end up being the everyday second baseman for most of the rest of the season.

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