Orlando Arcia trade bummed Brewers All-Stars. But Braves thrilled to have him

SEATTLE — As future All-Star relievers Josh Hader and Devin Williams ascended the Brewers system, they became familiar with infielder Orlando Arcia, the Brewers’ top-ranked prospect. Arcia spent six years with the Brewers before they traded him to the Braves in April 2021 for relievers Patrick Weigel and Chad Sobotka.

Now 28, Arcia was the National League’s starting shortstop Tuesday in the All-Star game. Two people overjoyed for his success: Hader (now with the Padres) and Williams, who reunited with Arcia on the NL team.

“It’s amazing; I grew up with him in the minor leagues,” Hader told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Once he got traded – I want to say we were in Chicago – but once he got traded, man, he’s a big personality to have on your side. Hard player, always loves to have fun. That man is always smiling. It’s just fun, contagious energy to have around.

“But to see him go over to Atlanta – obviously they have a good team – and win a World Series, then now being an All-Star, it’s special. That’s one thing as a player, you pull for those guys. Good people, good players. You pull for them to be the best they can be. So having him here, bringing up some of those memories and just to be on the same field as him again, it’s cool.”

When asked about Arcia, Williams smiled.

“It’s great to see how his career has gone since he left Milwaukee,” he told the AJC. “He was our No. 1 prospect at the time I was drafted or just afterwards. I saw him come up to the big leagues. He didn’t always have the most success or the best year, but he’s always been incredibly talented, and he’s put it all together since he’s gotten to Atlanta. He’s been playing really well. I’m really happy to see that for him.”

Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos made several shrewd deals in 2021, but the Arcia acquisition came months before he famously remade his outfield. Arcia arrived without much fanfare, acquired for a pair of nondescript relievers April 6. Braves manager Brian Snitker acknowledged he “was a little surprised” the infielder was available.

The Brewers relievers didn’t think Arcia was up for grabs, either.

“I was really shocked,” Williams said. “He was one of the guys in the clubhouse. He always brought a lot of energy. It was definitely a big surprise when that happened.”

Hader added: “I was (surprised). It took me for a shock. But this game will do that to you. I don’t think there’s ever a written rule on how things should go. So it threw me for a loop. But like I said, you always wish for the best for these guys, especially guys that you’ve played with a long time.”

When the Braves acquired him, Arcia had hit .244/.293/.364 in his six-year career. He was only 1-for-11 in four games before the Braves traded for him in 2021.

There were hints of a better player. In 13 postseason games, Arcia had hit .295 with four homers and six RBIs. He even impacted the Brewers in 2021, coming off the bench to record the game-winning RBI in extra innings on opening day.

“He showed flashes,” Williams said. “He was always really good in big moments. He had some down years, but if it was a clutch moment, he was a guy you’d want to have play. That’s always been the case.”

Arcia hit .231 with a .687 OPS from 2021-22, looking like a run-of-the-mill utilityman who can help a team but isn’t qualified for an every-day role. When All-Star Dansby Swanson left in free agency over the winter, any suggestion of Arcia replacing him typically was met with fan laughter.

The Braves believed in Arcia. His and the team’s patience was rewarded in grander fashion than either could’ve realistically imagined.

Arcia is hitting .294/.345/.424 with seven homers, 28 RBIs and 34 runs scored. He’s played phenomenal defense, making the routine plays while sprinkling in the spectacular. He looked comfortable alongside his All-Star peers this week; after all, he embraces those starry situations.

None of that surprises Williams, who recalled Arcia showing off his defensive acumen years ago.

“He’s always been, for me, one of the best defenders I’ve ever seen,” Williams said. “When he was in the minor leagues, I could recall three or four plays that I still remember to this day because I was so amazed he made that play. I remember one time in spring training, he’s playing shortstop, a righty hits a ball like in the 6-hole, and it skipped and hit the third baseman, bounced right off his cheek. And Arcia is just running to the hole already.

“They were both going for the ball. The guy misdirected off his face. (Arcia) catches it barehanded in the hole, in one motion threw it to first base. Out. I’ll never forget that. I was just like, ‘What the hell is that? How do you even do it?’ He’s always been an incredible defender.”

Hader concurred.

“You know you can count on him making the play behind you,” he said. “That’s a guy you want behind you when you’re on that mound. You know that you don’t have to be perfect. You can let them hit one on the ground, and you have a guy who can cover the range, a guy that can field the double plays and do that. Ultimately, he’s capable of doing a lot. He’s a really talented guy.”

What about Arcia’s current teammates? Following the All-Star game, the AJC asked Braves first baseman Matt Olson, second baseman Ozzie Albies and third baseman Austin Riley what makes Arcia so beloved.


“He has a good attitude. He’s a little crazy – good crazy. He’s always having fun. Even last year when he wasn’t playing a bunch and getting consistent at-bats, he’s the same guy. He’s always having fun with the guys and ready to go play hard when he plays. He’s just an awesome guy to have in a clubhouse.”


“I have a lot of faith in him, the way he plays. We work hard for these moments. I’m not surprised that he’s the starter. He’s showed it this year. He’s a high-energy, positive guy. You come to the field and you get everybody energized every day. You get everybody happy and positive. To me, I see him as a brother. He’s the best.

“He stayed patient and he was ready every time he had a situation he had to go in, pinch hit, pinch run, defense, whatever it was, he was always ready.”


“He’s always happy, never in a bad mood. He’s always pulling for everybody, no matter if he goes 0-for-4 that night. He’s going to be there for you, be there for his teammates, and I think that says a lot about him. It says a lot about his character and the way he plays the game.

“I feel like he has a little bit of a chip on his shoulder, all the talk in the offseason, ‘Who was the shortstop going to be?’ He got the opportunity and ran with it. He’s trusted in his ability. He knew it was in there. It was just a matter of getting his shot, and he did. He’s making the most of it, that’s for sure. Well-deserved All-Star, and I’m happy for him.”