Explaining surprise blockbuster sending Josh Hader from Brewers to Padres

This is the critical moment for the MLB front offices. The 2022 trade deadline approaches at 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday. It’s the last chance for contenders to bolster their playoff hopes and the last chance for other players to take action to help their future hopefuls. In some cases, it’s a chance to decode the intentions of the teams sitting on the fence.

For every major trade by Tuesday’s deadline, we’ll break down the moving parts and logic behind the trades. As always, baseball is hard to predict, so what now looks like a C+ trade could easily turn into an A+ trade with a swing adjustment or a new pitch.

Padres acquire relief pitcher Josh Hader from Brewers for relief pitcher Taylor Rogers, outfielder Esteury Ruiz, pitcher Dinelson Lamet and prospect pitcher Robert Gasser

So okay! The Milwaukee Brewers, leaders of NL Central, shipped their closest to San Diego. Weird, huh? Just a little.

Hader is without a doubt one of the best closers in the game. He throws 97 from the left side and pairs it with an evil slider. He consistently ranks among the top batting pitchers in baseball. He may not have been the Brewers’ best reliever, either. His 4.24 ERA this year is the result of a bit of bad luck and a bit of inconvenient truth: When batters hit the ball against him, it goes a long way. He is prone to giving up home runs, 1.85 per nine innings this year.

Setup man Devin Williams – who announced his dominance by winning the 2020 NL Rookie of the Year – will likely take on closer duties for Milwaukee. He’s running a 1.59 ERA this season, somewhat in line with his overall 1.72 ERA since the start of 2020. Thanks to a jaw-dropping change known as “Airbender,” Williams isn’t about to to these circuit problems. In fact, he hasn’t allowed one all year. So by moving Hader and getting Rogers back, the Brewers probably won’t take much of a drop in their bullpen.

What they’re adding is more talent in the prospect ranks, and likely on the immediate major league roster. Esteury Ruiz, 14 games into his MLB career, could play a role in their outfield right away. He’s a serious on-base machine that can run — he stole 23 bases in 28 Triple-A games before his promotion — but may not hit with much power. Lamet, who has been injured frequently, could also be factored into their playoff run if he is successful.

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – JULY 26: Josh Hader #71 of the Milwaukee Brewers throws a pitch during a game against the Minnesota Twins at American Family Field on July 26, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – JULY 26: Josh Hader #71 of the Milwaukee Brewers throws a pitch during a game against the Minnesota Twins at American Family Field on July 26, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Now, all that doesn’t change the fact that the Padres will be thrilled to have Hader. If he meets career standards, he gives them a closer lockdown for two playoff hunts and secures a spot that San Diego had faltered on. Rogers, acquired last offseason, recorded 28 saves with a 4.35 ERA in San Diego and Statcast metrics largely back up the idea that he was a bit too hard hit for comfort.

He also aligns with the aggressive, star-seeking stance of Padres top executive AJ Preller. The Padres are said to be big players in the Juan Soto draw, and they haven’t given up anything here that would change that. The move will look worse if he doesn’t add to his group of positional players, as Ruiz had been a factor in shoring up a weak outfield.

Ultimately, the deal is about surplus and need. The Brewers had a surplus of relief pitchers, so they moved their biggest, flashiest name to a team with some excess young talent and an uncertain closer situation. This isn’t the first time these two teams have completed what amounts to a defiant trade — the deal that sent Trent Grisham to the Padres and Luis Urias and Eric Lauer to the Brewers is still up and running.

Brewers: A

Parents: B+

Sailors acquire starting pitcher Luis Castillo from the Reds for 4 prospects, including SS Noelvi Marte

The first big issue of the season saw Castillo, perhaps the most hard-hitting pitcher available, heading to Seattle. He’ll fit into the top of the Mariners’ rotation and look to launch them into their first playoff appearance since 2001. It’s a blanket move by famed Mariners active manager Jerry Dipoto, but it could still pay off in 2023, as Castillo will remain under team control for one more season as the Mariners’ young core matures. Getting the best pitcher on the market is certainly a win, but it’s worth noting that rotation — already bolstered by an offseason signing of Robbie Ray — wasn’t Seattle’s biggest need. And it was expensive.

As the Reds pursue a (quite cynically, seemingly trigger-happy) rebuild, this will become by far the biggest move yet. In exchange for Castillo, the Reds landed a premium prospect in shortstop Noelvi Marte, another young shortstop who could now be one of Edwin Arroyo’s top 100 talents and two pitchers – Levi Stoudt and Andrew Moore – who their strong pitcher development team can work with. . Marte is the price here, ranked as the No. 11 prospect right now by FanGraphs and No. 12 by Keith Law. He’s only 20 and looks like a solid infielder with a tough body who will hit for average and power, a star in the making even if he ends up moving to third base. Prospects as acclaimed as Marte don’t move very often these days. Extracting it for a very good but not winning pitcher from Cy Young is a win for the Reds.

Sailors: B

Reds: A

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 30: Andrew Benintendi #18 of the New York Yankees in action against the Kansas City Royals during a game at Yankee Stadium on July 30, 2022 in New York City.  (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

New York Yankees’ Andrew Benintendi in action against the Kansas City Royals during a game at Yankee Stadium on Saturday. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Yankees acquire OF Andrew Benintendi from Royals for 3 prospects

Sometimes the pivots are very obvious. In this case, the Yankees admit defeat on their acquisition of Joey Gallo and lean into an outfielder who takes a diametrically opposite approach. Benintendi, the former Red Sox mainstay, makes consistent contact, double hits and plays solid defense. The Yankees will put him in the lead and try to offload Gallo before the deadline. The problem with Benintendi is his refusal, so far, to get vaccinated against COVID-19. If and when the Yankees play key games against the Toronto Blue Jays in Canada, Benintendi will not be allowed to go unless he changes his mind about the vaccination.

In return, the Royals landed three pitching prospects: Beck Way, TJ Sikkema and Chandler Champlain. If you’re going to face young pitchers in any organization, the Yankees are one of the best choices. The Royals gave up very little to get Benintendi a few years ago, while FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen says none of those pitching projects are more than a No. 4 starter (Sikkema), the Royals have well succeeded in the exchange.

It remains to be seen if Kansas City’s player development team can help them continue to progress. The recent record of the Royals does not inspire confidence.

Yankees: B+

Royals: B

Mets acquire DH Daniel Vogelbach from Pirates for relief pitcher Colin Holderman

The Mets needed another home run threat to add to Pete Alonso, preferably a southpaw. Vogelbach checks those boxes and climbs onto the base to start. The New York lineup has plenty of contact ability, so getting close to Vogelbach’s three true results isn’t an issue here. It probably shouldn’t be their only upgrade, but it’s a good start.

Holderman quickly emerged as a quality bullpen arm capable of working more than one inning. It’s possible the Pirates see greater potential as a final reliever or as someone who’s an adjustment or two away from starting.

Dishes: B+

Pirates: B

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