Trade Central: Padres Acquire Josh Hader From Brewers In Blockbuster Deal
After blowing two saves last week and barely wriggling out of a late jam in another game, the Padres acquired one of the best relievers in baseball to shore up the back of their bullpen.
The Padres acquired closer Josh Hader from the Brewers on Monday, sending closer Taylor Rogers, righthander Dinelson Lamet, outfielder Esteury Ruiz and lefthanded pitching prospect Robert Gasser back to Milwaukee in return. ESPN's Jeff Passan was first to report the trade.
Hader leads the majors with 29 saves this season. He recorded 125 saves and was a four-time all-star in six seasons with the Brewers.
Josh Hader, LHP
Arguably the best reliever in baseball the last five years, Hader went through an uncharacteristically awful stretch this month where he allowed 12 earned runs—including five home runs—in just 4.1 innings, but he appears to have righted the ship. He’s allowed only one run in his last four outings while striking out seven of the 16 batters he’s faced. At his best, Hader is a dominant force with a vicious fastball in the upper 90s and a devastating slider that generates swings and misses in bunches. He also has a changeup, but his first two pitches are all he really needs. Hader recently has left balls elevated up over the plate—and his 37.3% fly ball rate is the highest of his career—leading to his recent struggles. Still, if his recent performance this month was just an uncharacteristic blip as most expect, he’ll give the Padres a badly needed lockdown closer at the end of games. He is under team control through the end of next season and will be a free agent after 2023.
New Slider Helps Brewers' Robert Gasser Grip New Possibilities
The Brewers added Gasser in the Josh Hader trade and brought him to big league camp to get a closer look at his top pitch.
Taylor Rogers, LHP
Rogers is second in the majors with 28 saves behind only Hader, but he’s struggled mightily in recent weeks and lost the closer’s role in San Diego. After allowing only one earned run in his first 20 appearances and converting 17 of 18 save opportunities in that time, he has allowed 28 hits and 19 earned runs in his last 21 innings. It’s been particularly bad recently, with at least one allowed run in eight of his last 11 appearances. His walk rate and strikeout rate are both his worst since 2018 and he converted only six of his last 10 save opportunities before losing the closer’s role. At his best, Rogers is a solid high-leverage reliever who can close games, but he’s not there right now. It will be incumbent on the Brewers to get him back to his best self.
Dinelson Lamet, RHP
Lamet has shown some of the most electric stuff of any starter when healthy, but the problem is he’s rarely stayed healthy. The Padres moved him to the bullpen midway through last year because of his lengthy injury track record and he has struggled with the conversion to relief, posting a career 6.90 ERA as a reliever compared to 3.78 as a starter. He was demoted to the minors this year to try and work through his relief struggles and only returned to the majors this month. On paper, Lamet has everything he needs to be a dominant reliever—and potential closer—with a 95-98 mph fastball and a devastating hard slider in the upper 80s that is one of the most unhittable pitches in the game. He has struggled to find any rhythm or comfort in the bullpen, however, leading to the worst control and highest walk rates of his career. He has the potential to be another high-octane bullpen weapon for the Brewers, but he will need continued help adjusting to the role to fulfill his potential. Otherwise, a return to the rotation—even with his poor health record—might be best.
Esteury Ruiz, OF
The Padres No. 8 prospect, Ruiz frustrated for years as a toolsy, athletic player with zero strike-zone discipline. After three seasons of swinging wildly at anything near the plate, the Padres did not protect him in advance of last year’s Rule 5 draft—which was ultimately canceled due to the lockout. Ruiz surprised everyone, including Padres officials, with a stunning improvement in his plate discipline and swing decisions. He cut his chase rate by more than 10%, and the improved pitch selection led to a breakout year in which he hit .333/.467/.560 with a career-high 13 home runs, 46 RBIs and 60 stolen bases at Double-A and Triple-A. He received his first big league callup earlier this month. Ruiz is a sleek athlete with surprising plus raw power in his frame and plus speed that is enhanced by elite baserunning instincts. His power-speed combination has long enticed, but he still has to prove he can maintain his improved plate discipline at higher levels to make enough contact to succeed. Ruiz’s hard hands made him unplayable in the infield and forced a move last year to the outfield, where his routes and reads are still only fair but should improve with experience. He has the athleticism and work ethic to improve and be a competent center fielder, if not more, in time. He has also seen time in right field, but his average arm makes him an ill fit for the position. Ruiz’s future will come down to whether he can maintain his improved strike-zone discipline and pitch selection. If he can, he has the potential to be an everyday player who makes an impact with his speed and power. If not, he’ll struggle to carve out any significant role in the majors.
Robert Gasser, LHP
The Padres’ second-round pick last year out of Houston, Gasser is the Padres’ No. 9 prospect and has had a fair, but unspectacular, first full season at High-A Fort Wayne. He is 4-9, 4.18 with 115 strikeouts and 28 walks in 90.1 innings. Gasser has plenty of stuff with a fastball that sits 92-93 mph and touches 95 from the left side. He’s added a cutter at 88-91 mph with angle that effectively jams righthanded hitters and has a big, wide breaking ball that is an effective third pitch in his arsenal. His changeup is a below-average pitch he needs to deaden, part of the reason righthanded hitters (.262, .781 OPS) have had decent success against him. Gasser is a good athlete who throws quality strikes and has a feel for pitching. He projects to be a No. 4 starter on the high end but has potential fallbacks in a number of roles, including as a spot starter or long reliever if something stalls in his development.