Brewers trade Josh Hader for Padres

In a jaw-dropping blockbuster, the Padres agreed to acquire All-Star closer Josh Hader of the Brewers, reports ESPN’s Jeff Passan (Twitter link). Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported minutes ago that the Brewers are closing in on a deal with Hader.

The Padres send their closer, Taylor Rogersin Milwaukee back in business, Passan further tweet. Milwaukee will also acquire righty Dinelson Lametpitch prospect Robert Gasser and outside field perspective Esteury Ruiz.

Josh Hader |  Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a huge win for the Padres, and while it’s a real surprise to see Milwaukee come closer while holding a three-game lead in National League Central, the reasoning behind the trade is pretty simple. Hader’s $11 million salary will jump north of $15 million next season in his final year in control of the club, and a typically budget-conscious Brewers club may not be willing to spend $15-17 million to a single reliever when that’s such a notable chunk of the overall payroll.

The Brewers, of course, could have retained Hader over the winter and made him available then, but the allure of landing Hader for multiple playoff pushes undeniably allowed them to seek a higher price tag in this moment. To that end, they’re acquiring a closer in Rogers, who – like Hader – has struggled lately but has a great record over multiple seasons. Milwaukee also adds a high-octane arm in Lamet, though he’s plagued by injuries, and two top-ten Padres prospects in Gasser and Ruiz, breathing much-needed life into a farming system that’s been struggling. has generally not been taken into account. among the strongest in the sport.

It’s the kind of trade we’re used to seeing smaller wage bill clubs like the Rays and Guardians make with regularity: cashing in on the trade value of a coveted player when he’s had multiple seasons in check. of the club and simultaneously fill that spot on the roster with other big league assists. It’s an immediate demotion to the overall roster, but this kind of simultaneous act of tightrope buying and selling has been one of the keys to keeping Tampa Bay, Cleveland, and even Milwaukee itself competitive well. that they are rarely able to spend high end. market money.

Hader, 28, sits on a career-worst 4.24 ERA, although that mark was inflated by an unusual pair of back-to-back slumps earlier this month, where he was scored for nine points staggering merits in a third of an inning. Outside of that pair of disastrous outings, Hader has a 1.87 ERA in 33 2/3 innings. He didn’t even allow a run this season until June 7 and knocked out 41.8% of his opponents against an 8.5% walk rate.

Since Hader’s debut in 2017, no one in baseball has surpassed his whopping 44.1% strikeout rate — and they haven’t come particularly close to doing so. (Craig Kimbrel is second at 40.6%.) Hader’s 2.48 ERA in this era is eighth-best among 309 qualified relievers, and no one has surpassed his 19.5% swing strike rate.

The name that trails Hader in that huge swinging strike rate – now a former teammate Devin Williams – may also have something to do with today’s trading. The Brewers surely wouldn’t have been so comfortable moving Hader were it not for Williams’ own breakthrough as one of the sport’s most dominant relief pitchers. Armed with a deadly switch (nicknamed the “Airbender”), Williams ranks fourth in strikeout rate (39.9%), second in swing strikeout rate (18.6%) and second for ERA (1.94) among that same subset of skilled relievers just mentioned for Hader.

There’s certainly an argument to be made that Milwaukee should have just kept Hader and out this dominating duo all season and into the upcoming playoffs, but the mix of high-potential immediate replacements (Rogers, Lamet) and the The long-term value of adding a pair of well-regarded prospects to the system proved too alluring to President of Baseball Operations David Stearns, General Manager Matt Arnold and the rest of the Milwaukee staff.

Taylor Rogers |  Orlando Ramirez - USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to this collection of newly acquired talent, the Brewers are surely hoping Rogers can shake off the recent slump that has plagued him for the past two months. Rogers, 2018-21 with the Twins, was not far behind Hader on the list of the best left-handed relievers in the sport. He worked 197 2/3 frames during that span, hitting a 2.91 ERA with a 31.2% strikeout rate, 4.9% walk rate and 50 saves. However, a torn tendon in his pitching hand cut Rogers short last season, and he was shipped from the Twins to San Diego on the eve of Opening Day this year.

Rogers embraced his new environment brilliantly, throwing to a dominant 0.44 ERA with a 23-4 K/BB ratio in his first 20 1/3 innings. Since that time, however, he’s been beaten for an 8.14 ERA in an almost identical 21-inning sample. However, Rogers still has an outstanding 25 to 5 K/BB ratio over that ugly stretch, and he’s only allowed one home run along the way. He’s been dogged by a dizzying .429 average on balls in play during this slump, but it’s still hard to ignore a streak that has seen Rogers give up runs in 13 of his last 22 appearances.

Still, Rogers’ record is enticing, and perhaps the Brewers have their own idea of ​​how the southpaw can get back on track. He’s a free agent at the end of the season, making Rogers a pure hire — but he’s ultra-affordable, as the Twins covered all but $700,000 of his salary in that trade with the Padres.

Lamet, meanwhile, is another huge bull arm that brewers are buying low on. The flamethrower right-hander was a candidate for Cy Young in the shortened 2020 season, but suffered a bicep injury at the end of that season and missed a significant part of the 2021 campaign due to forward strain. arms.

Dinelson Lamet |  Orlando Ramirez - USA TODAY Sports

Lamet has driven in 13 earned runs in just 12 1/3 Major League innings this season, but he’s been dominant in Triple-A (0.77 ERA in 11 2/3 frames). His fastball, which averaged 97 mph in 2020, has dropped to an average of 95.3 mph this year. There are obviously a lot of red flags with Lamet, but if he can get back to anything resembling his 2020 form (2.09 ERA, 34.8% strikeout rate, 7.5% walk rate) coming out from the Milwaukee bullpen, he would be a terrific addition to the relief corps both this year and next, as he is eligible for arbitration again ahead of free agency in the 2023 offseason- 24.

Both Gasser and Ruiz were among the Padres’ top 10 prospects and will now join the Brewers’ top 10 as well. Class-A Advanced Affiliate this season. In 90 1/3 innings he notched a 4.18 ERA but a far more impressive 3.27 FIP, thanks in large part to a showy 30.5% strikeout rate and 7 walk rate. .4%. Somewhat amusingly, Gasser doesn’t rely on speed to find success, but rather on command and a more brittle ball. Baseball America tabs its fastball in the 90-93 mph range and calls Gasser a high-probability fourth starter — one who could move quickly through the minors. He could be an option in Milwaukee by the end of the 2023 season and certainly by the 2024 campaign.

Ruiz, meanwhile, is an immediate option for the Brewers in center field. He’s already made his big league debut, and while just 6 for 27 in his first games, he’s erased the Double-A throw (.344/.474/.611 in 232 league appearances). marble) and Triple-A opposition so far. in 2022 (.315/.457/.477 in 142 plate appearances). Ruiz, incredibly, has stolen 60 bases in just 77 minor league games this year and has already picked up the first of what should be a few big league steals as well. Add average or better raw power, and it’s easy to see why Milwaukee was in love with him, especially given the team’s needs in center field.

Ruiz isn’t a true center fielder and only moved to the outfield full-time last season after struggling as an infielder, but BA’s scouting report on him notes he does. already decent jumps and reads as he learns center field on the fly. Strikeouts were an issue for Ruiz earlier in his career, but he’s only batted 17.4% in the minors so far this season and has reportedly made some changes to his approach and swing that improved his batting abilities. .

Of course, it’s far from common to see a division-leading team with one of the best players in the game in charge midway through the season, but the whole bet for the Brewers is an upside game. which could bring them comparable production in 2022 and considerable long-term value thereafter.

For the Padres, it’s pure short-term play in an effort to build a strong postseason pitching team. It’s certainly not the only decision that San Diego president of baseball operations AJ Preller will make between now and tomorrow’s deadline. He managed to add Hader without having to give up any of the most high-end prospects in the organization – for example Robert Hassel III, JC Abrams, Jackson Merrill, James Wood, Louis Campusano – all of which could be used as firepower to provide a significant pitching or outfield upgrade (e.g. Frankie Montas, John Soto).

It’s worth mentioning that Hader’s acquisition likely puts the Padres above the luxury tax threshold, even if Lamet’s salary goes to Milwaukee. This only serves as a further omen for significant Preller & Co. deals, however. In all likelihood, the Padres are just getting started, and we shouldn’t expect this to be the only notable move for the Brewers either.

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