The San Diego Padres have acquired three-time NL Reliever of the Year Josh Hader from the Brewers in exchange for pitchers Taylor Rogers and Dinelson Lamer in addition to prospects Robert Gasser and Esteury Ruiz.
Since making his Major League debut in 2017, Hader’s 2.48 ERA (first), 2.70 FIP (second), 2.58 xFIP (second), 2.06 SIERA (first), 44.1 K% (first), 34.5 K-BB% (first), 33.7 CSW% (second), and 9.4 fWAR (tied for second) all rank top two among relievers with at least 250 innings pitched.
Although Hader has been so dominant since debuting and opening the 2022 season with 19 straight scoreless appearances, Hader’s ERA is up to 4.24. Most of the damage done against Hader was done in July as he had a 12.54 ERA in 9.1 innings pitched with most of the damage coming against the San Francisco Giants on July 15th when he surrendered six earned runs and three homers en route to a walk-off grand slam by Mike Yastrzemski.
Despite his high ERA, Hader’s peripherals have been very good with a 3.27 xERA, 3.47 FIP, 2.41 xFIP, 1.85 SIERA, and 33.4 CSW%.
Before the season, the Padres brought in Taylor Rogers to be their closer (more on him later), but ultimately decided they were going to start utilizing a closer by committee just a couple of days ago as Rogers struggled in June and July. By bringing in Hader, the Padres have restabilized their closer situation for the rest of this season and for at least one more season in 2023 by acquiring one of the best relievers of this generation. Additionally, it’s important to note that none of the assets the Padres gave up take them out of the running for Juan Soto or any other players they might be interested in.
It’s difficult for any team to trade one of the best players on your team, especially when your team is in leading their division. Despite this, trading Hader made sense for the Brewers. Hader is making $11 million via arbitration, is set to make even more in 2023, and the Brewers have another outstanding reliever by the name of Devin Williams. Williams — who is arguably better than Hader — is set to reach arbitration for the first time after this season and has one more year of control than Hader. With Williams being on Hader’s level of dominance and being much more affordable, it makes sense why the Padres traded Hader for the package they received.
As mentioned earlier, Taylor Rogers was originally brought in by the Padres to be their closer for this season. If you just looked at his 2.35 FIP, 3.36 xFIP, 2.73 SIERA, 27.6 K%, and 5.2 BB% you’d probably be wondering why he was booted from the closer role and traded within two days. Despite having great swing and miss stuff, opposing players have had some success against Rogers with a .333 BABIP, 88.8 average exit velocity (43rd percentile), .309 xwOBA (47th percentile), and 7.3 barrel% (52nd percentile). With as good of a pitcher development system as the Brewers have, I’m very optimistic that Rogers’ ERA will crawl closer to what his peripherals indicate and he won’t be too much of a downgrade from Hader.
The other pitcher the Brewers acquired is Dinelson Lamet. Lamet’s best MLB season came in 2020 when he placed fourth in NL Cy Young voting after pitching 69.0 innings to a 2.04 ERA. Despite a fantastic campaign in 2020, Lamet wasn’t able to build on his success in 2021 due to two separate injuries that limited him to pitch 47.0 innings (with the majority of his appearances coming out of the bullpen). One of the injuries that Lamet dealt with last year was a UCL injury that required Tommy John surgery in 2019, so there’s definitely injury concern with him. However, if (a very big if) Lamet is able to stay healthy, he can become a multi-inning weapon out of the bullpen, a backend of the bullpen piece, a starter, or a combination of all three. Lamet has pitched only 12.1 MLB innings this season to a 9.49 ERA, but he has a 0.77 ERA in 11.2 AAA innings. There’s no reason the Brewers shouldn’t see what they have in Lamet because we’ve seen how good he can be.
Finally, the two prospects the Brewers acquired are Robert Gasser and Esteury Ruiz. Gasser was the 71st overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft and was ranked the Padres’ seventh best prospect via MLB.com and 19th best prospect via FanGraphs. Gasser is set to join the Brewers’ AA affiliate after pitching 90.1 innings with the Padres’ A+ affiliate to a 4.18 ERA with an impressive 30.5 K%. Although Ruiz was a fringe top 30 prospect in the Padres’ system and he has struggled in his limited MLB action, he has shown great potential in the Minor Leagues this season. Between AA and AAA, Ruiz hit .333/.468/.560 with 60 (!!!) stolen bases in 77 games.
Padres: A- Brewers: B+