In a stunning blockbuster, the Padres agreed to acquire the All-Star closer Josh Hader From the Brewers, ESPN’s Jeff Basson (Twitter link) The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported moments ago that the Brewers were closing in on Hader’s deal.
Padres send their own closer, Taylor RogersBack to Milwaukee in the deal, Passan also Tweets. Milwaukee will also own the franchise Tinelson LamettPitching opportunity Robert Keser and outfield prospect Estuary Ruiz.
While it would be a genuine surprise to see Milwaukee move closer to a three-game lead in the National League Central, the reasoning behind the trade is fairly straightforward. Hader’s $11MM salary will climb north of $15MM next season in the final year of his club control, and a typically budget-conscious Brewers club may not want to commit $15-17MM to a reliever. Gross pay.
The Brewers, of course, could have grabbed Hader in the winter and made him available at that point, but the allure of landing Hader for several postseasons undeniably allowed them to seek a higher price now. To that end, they get a closer for themselves in Rodgers, who — like Hader — has struggled of late but has a solid record over several seasons. Milwaukee adds a high-octane arm in Lamet, two of the Padres’ top ten prospects in Gasser and Ruiz, despite being plagued by injuries, to breathe some life into a farm system that’s not generally regarded. Among the sport’s strongest.
It’s a trade we’re used to seeing small-payroll clubs like the Rays and Guardians make on a regular basis: cash in on a desirable player’s trade value while the club has control over multiple seasons and simultaneously backfill that spot on the roster with other bigs. League help. It’s an immediate downgrade to the overall roster, but this type of simultaneous buying and selling is one of the keys to keeping Tampa Bay, Cleveland and even Milwaukee competitive. Market money.
Hader, 28, sits at a career-worst 4.24 ERA, though that mark was boosted earlier this month by an uncharacteristic pair of consecutive meltdowns in which he struck out a whopping nine in a third of an inning. Outside of those pair of disastrous outings, Hader has a 1.87 ERA in 33 2/3 innings. He hasn’t allowed a run this season through June 7 and has struck out 41.8% of his opponents against an 8.5% walk rate.
Since Hader’s 2017 debut, no one in baseball has matched his massive 44.1% strikeout rate — nor have they come particularly close to doing so. (Craig Kimbrel second at 40.6%.) Hader’s 2.48 ERA in that span was eighth-best among 309 qualified relievers, and his 19.5% swinging-strike rate was topped by none.
The name — now a former teammate — would push back Hader in that massive swinging-strike rate Devin Williams — may have something to do with today’s trade. Had it not been for Williams’ own breakthrough as one of the game’s most dominant relief pitchers, the Brewers certainly wouldn’t have been as comfortable moving Hader. Armed with a lethal changeup, Williams ranks fourth in strikeout rate (39.9%), second in swinging-strike rate (18.6%) and now ranks second in ERA (1.94) among the same subset of qualified relievers. Regarding the header.
Milwaukee should have simply kept Hader and put that dominant duo out there for the rest of the season and the upcoming playoff run, but the mix of high-upside, immediate replacements (Rogers, Lamett) and long stretches is certainly there. For president of baseball operations David Stearns, GM Matt Arnold and the rest of the Milwaukee staff, the term value of adding a pair of well-known prospects proved very attractive.
The Brewers will certainly hope that Rogers can shake off the recent slump that has plagued him over the last couple of months as he returns to his newly acquired talent pool. Rogers, with doubles from 2018-21, is not far behind Hader on the list of the game’s best left-handed relievers. During that time he worked 197 2/3 frames, going to a 2.91 ERA with a 31.2% strikeout rate, 4.9% walk rate and 50 saves. Rogers suffered a torn ligament in his pitching hand last season, however, and was sent from the Twins to San Diego before Opening Day this year.
Rogers took to his new surroundings brilliantly, posting a dominant 0.44 ERA with a 23-to-4 K/BB ratio through his first 20 1/3 innings. Since that time, however, he’s been clobbered for an 8.14 ERA over 21 innings in an almost identical pattern. Rogers still has an exceptional 25-to-5 K/BB ratio in that ugly stretch, however, he’s allowed just one home run along the way. He has a sky-high .429 average on balls in play during this slump, but it’s still hard to overlook the fact that Rogers has surrendered 13 runs in his last 22 appearances.
Still, Rodgers’ track record is impressive, and the Brewers may have their own idea of how the lefty can get back on track. He was a free agent at the end of the season, making Rogers a pure rental — but he’s also very affordable, as the Twins gave the Padres all but $700K of his salary in that trade.
Lamet, meanwhile, is another big upside arm that the Brewers are buying less. The flamethrowing righty was a Cy Young candidate in the shortened 2020 season, but went down late that season with a biceps injury and missed a significant portion of the 2021 campaign with forearm strains.
Lamett has given up 13 earned runs in just 12 1/3 major league innings this season, but he has been dominant in Triple-A (0.77 ERA in 11 2/3 frames). His fastball averaged 95.3 mph this year, down from 97 mph in 2020. There are obviously plenty of red flags with Lamet, but if he can recapture his 2020 form (2.09 ERA, 34.8% strikeout rate, 7.5% walk rate) coming out of the Milwaukee bullpen, he’ll be a solid addition before free agency in the 2023-24 season. Once arbitrator qualified, relief corps this year and next year.
Both Gasser and Ruiz were among the Padres’ top 10 prospects and will now join the Brewers’ top 10 as well. Gasser, 23, was taken 71st overall in the 2021 draft and has earned his spot in the Padres’ rotation. Class-A Advanced Link this season. In 90 1/3 innings, he has a 4.18 ERA but a very impressive 3.27 FIP, thanks mostly to a 30.5% strikeout rate and a sharp 7.4% walk rate. Somewhat amusingly, Gasser doesn’t rely on speed to find success, but rather plus command and a plus breaking ball. Baseball America taps his fastball at 90-93 mph and calls Cassar a high-probability fourth starter — someone who can move quickly through the minors. He could be an option in Milwaukee late in the 2023 season and certainly into 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 he’s 6-for-27 in his first few games, he’s destroyed Double-A pitching (.344/.474/.611 in 232 plate appearances) 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. Add in average or better raw power, and it’s easy to see why Milwaukee was interested in him — especially considering the team’s need in center field.
Ruiz isn’t a true center fielder, having moved to the outfield on a full-time basis last season after struggling as an infielder, but BA’s scouting report notes that he’s already making decent jumps and that he’s studying center fielder. E. Strikeouts were an issue early in his career, but he’s hitting at a 17.4% clip in the minors so far this season and has reportedly made some changes to his approach and swing. .
Sure, it’s not common to see a division-leading team part with one of the game’s best players in the middle of the season, but the entire gamble for the Brewers is an upside that could yield comparable production in 2022. Substantial long-term value thereafter.
For the Padres, it’s a clean short-term play with the goal of putting together a powerhouse post-pitching staff. San Diego president of baseball operations A.J. That’s not the only move Breller will make between now and tomorrow’s deadline. He managed to add Hader without surrendering any of the company’s top prospects – e.g. Robert Hassell III, CJ Abrams, Jackson Merrill, James Wood, Luis Camposano – All of them could use firepower to bring about a significant pitching or outfield upgrade (eg. Frankie Montas, John Soto)
It also notes that acquiring Hader would put the Padres over the luxury tax threshold, even if Lamett’s salary returns to Milwaukee. However, it is Preller & Co. serves only as one more sign of significant manipulation from In all likelihood, the Padres are just getting started, and we shouldn’t expect this to be the only move for the Brewers.
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