The Milwaukee Brewers traded All-Star closer Josh Hader to the San Diego Padres on Monday afternoon, sending the most dominant reliever in baseball in recent years to a team that has struggled in late-inning situations this season.
The deal, which will send left-handed reliever Taylor Rogers, left-handed pitching prospect Robert Gasser, right-hander Dinelson Lamet and outfielder Esteury Ruiz to the Brewers, came together after the Brewers fielded extensive interest this week on Hader, sources told ESPN.
While the 28-year-old Hader has a career-worst 4.24 ERA, evaluators say his stuff remains elite and that if not for two poor outings on back-to-back days before the All-Star break, his ERA would be under 2.00. In 34 innings this season, Hader has struck out 59 batters, walked 12 and allowed seven home runs.
Milwaukee’s willingness to deal Hader, after years of considering it — including in potential deals with the Padres — was surprising but not altogether shocking. Hader, who is making $11 million this season, should see his salary jump into the $16 million range in his final year of arbitration next season. After 2023, he’ll reach free agency.
“The players we are receiving in this trade help ensure that the future of the Milwaukee Brewers remains bright while not compromising our desire and expectation to win today,” Brewers president of basketball operations David Stearns said in a statement. “This mix of present Major League talent and high-level prospects furthers our aim to get as many bites of the apple as possible and, ultimately, to bring a World Series to Milwaukee. Trading good players on good teams is difficult, and that certainly is the case with Josh. We also recognize that to give our organization the best chance for sustained competitiveness, to avoid the extended down periods that so many organizations experience, we must make decisions that are not easy.”
San Diego, with a win-now attitude, will replace Rogers with Hader — and is far from done. None of the players San Diego included in the deal for Hader were seen as central options in its pursuit of Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto, who could be moved before the 6 p.m. ET trade deadline Tuesday.
Still, San Diego paid significantly for Hader. Rogers might be the most recognizable name in the deal — he is second in the National League with 28 saves — but he is far from the most important player to Milwaukee. (He will be a free agent after this season.) The 23-year-old Ruiz shredded Triple-A this season, slashing .344/.474/.611, and made his big league debut last month. Gasser has struck out 115 and walked just 28 in 90⅓ innings at High-A, where he’s pitching his first full season after San Diego selected him in the second round of the 2021 draft. Lamet, 30, is the wild card of the deal. During the shortened 2020 season, he finished fourth in National League Cy Young voting. Injuries and ineffectiveness have plagued him since, and he has a 9.49 ERA in 12⅓ major league innings this season, but a 1.93 ERA with a hefty strikeout rate in Triple-A.
Milwaukee’s appetite for moving a figure as seminal to its recent success as Hader, a four-time All-Star and winner of three of the past four NL Reliever of the Year awards, was never voracious. But the presence of that fourth winner, Devin Williams, certainly helped. In a setup role with Milwaukee, Williams last allowed a run May 10 — a streak of 30 games in which he has thrown 28⅔ innings of 47-strikeout, eight-walk, no-run ball.