Since David Stearns let the baseball marketplace know that All-MLB reliever Josh Hader is available for the right price, a number of teams have reportedly expressed interested in finding out just what that price might be. The New York Yankees have been said to the most aggressive in inquiring about Hader. Reports indicate that Stearns wants at least one top level prospect as part of a package that would come back. So let’s take a look at some of the pieces possessed by New York that might be of interest to the Brewers when it comes to the headliner of a hypothetical Hader swap.
The Yankees in particular have a mix of major league talent that has proven their ability on the big stage along with high-upside prospect talent that has a fair amount of risk attached. Five names that stand out are Miguel Andujar, Clint Frazier, Deivi Garcia, Jasson Dominguez, and Estevan Florial.
Andujar put together a wonderful first season in Yankee pinstripes in 2018. He slashed .297/.328/.527 while collecting 76 extra base hits (27 home runs) and posting a 130 wRC+. Trying to play through a small labrum tear in his right shoulder, Andujar could only slash .128/.143/.128 in 12 games in 2019. The decision was made to have surgery on the shoulder causing him to miss the rest of 2019.
He will turn 25 in March, and he will not be eligible for free agency until 2023. With the emergence of Gio Urshela, Andujar becomes expendable for New York. With a gaping hole at third base in Milwaukee, Andujar would be a welcome addition. If such an acquisition were to occur, Andujar could be a middle-of-the-order bat that played in a Brewers’ uniform during the prime of his playing career.
Frazier was once the #1 prospect in New York’s system according to MLB Pipeline, ranking ahead of the likes of Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, and Andujar. He also headlined the trade that sent Andrew Miller to Cleveland. Just for reference, that trade, which included two top-100 prospects, landed Miller’s services in Cleveland through 2018 for $21 million over that time for the league’s most dominant reliever when he was 31 years old.
Frazier has always been lauded for his tools. He was ranked the #15 prospect by MLB Pipeline in 2016 getting scouting grades of:
Hit: 50 | Power: 60 | Run: 55 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | OFP: 55
He has also demonstrated that he can get it done at the major league level. In 2019 he received 246 plate appearances slashing .267/.317/.489. He launched 12 home runs and posted a 108 wRC+. In an extremely crowded outfield, he gets limited opportunity and he might be getting a bit frustrated as a result. That frustration could be affecting minor league performance (170 wRC+ in 2018 in AAA as opposed to a 85 wRC+ in 2019 in AAA). When the outfielder was still a prospect, MLB Pipeline lauded his potential with the bat — “Frazier’s bat speed and raw power are among the best in the Minor Leagues and suggest the ceiling of an All-Star.” In an interview with Frazier, Joe Rivera covered his frustrations with being called up and sent down as well as his electric bat speed. What might he be if he get everyday at-bats?
Garcia is currently the 62nd ranked prospect in baseball and top prospect in the Yankees system according to MLB Pipeline. His curveball has been his calling card as MLB Pipeline and Fangraphs give it a 65 future grade. Baseball America is a little less generous giving the pitch a 55 grade. Baseball America indicated that Garcia added a slider to his pitching repertoire midway through 2019 and placed a 60 grade on the pitch. His fastball is rated well too, earning grades of 55-60 depending on the scouting publication.
Garcia has excellent spin on both his fastball and curveball. His fastball plays up because of his outstanding spin rates. The 20 year old Dominican sits at 92-93 mph and can touch 97 mph. Garcia gets compared to Pedro Martinez likely because of his nationality, stuff, and slight frame. He is just 5’9” and 163 lbs, which is smaller than Martinez. There are not many starting pitchers that perform at a high level with his size. Marcus Stroman would be an exception. His size is where the great concern is, however if he could not make it as a starter, his stuff should play up in a big way in late inning relief.
As was mentioned previously, Garcia added a slider to his pitching mix. That pitch gave him a pitch that moves east to west in the zone. Every other pitch in his repertoire functioned from top to bottom in the zone. With the slider being such a highly rated pitch by Baseball America, he has three pitches graded out at 60 or above. Couple that with a change that grades as an average offering and control that grades 50-55, and Deivi Garcia probably deserves his top-100 ranking in MLB Pipeline, which also gives him a 55 OFP. Fangraphs placed a 50 OFP on Garcia.
Speaking of placing unreasonable expectations placed on a prospect, Dominguez gets compared to Mike Trout and Mickey Mantle. For a 16 year old kid, that has to be flattering but a difficult expectation to meet, especially when MLB Pipeline places his OFP at 55. He is called the “Martian” for his other worldly physical gifts. Kiley McDaniel and Eric Longenhagen did say that his package of tools brings big names like Bo Jackson, Yasiel Puig, and Yoan Moncada to mind.
At 5’10” and 190 lbs, the teenager hits from both sides of the plate and can play center field. The Yankees paid him $5 million to sign. MLB Pipeline grades the young man’s tools all between 55 and 60, making his 55 OFP seem a bit low. That is probably more a result of his youth — and therefore his risk — than his tools.
- Hit: 55
- Power: 55
- Run: 60
- Arm: 60
- Field: 55
Baseball America sees Dominguez’ upside even more optimistically. He grades out at a 65 OFP and his tools grade as follows:
- Hit: 60
- Power: 70
- Run: 70
- Fielding: 60
- Arm: 60
Scouts have stated that he regularly has exit velocities at 110 mph or above from both sides of the plate. Evidently he is very fast, as well. He ran 6.3 seconds in the 60 yard dash. For comparison, Billy Hamilton ran 6.2 seconds. If the Yankees actually think this kid is the second coming of Mike Trout, I cannot imagine they would part with him for any price. Yet you never know.
Florial has been a top-100 prospect according to MLB Pipeline since 2017 (#79 and #3 in the Yankees’ system in 2017, #45 and #1 in the Yankees’ system in 2018, and #82 and #3 in the Yankees’ system in 2019). He does not even get into Baseball America’s top 10 however after having him as the #1 Yankees’ prospect after the 2018 season and MLB’s #38 prospect in 2017. His 2019 performance and injuries might just pull him off all top-100 lists going into 2020, but the center fielder has some exciting tools. MLB Pipeline grades his tools as follows:
- Hit: 45
- Power: 55
- Run: 65
- Arm: 65
- Field: 60
- OFP: 55
Baseball America states, “Florial remains a tantalizing but risky combination of outstanding tools and limited refinement. He generates above-average power thanks to quick hands and above-average bat speed. He can drive the ball to left field and center nearly as easily as he yanks it over a right-field fence, but he needs to make solid contact more consistently.” The high risk player has a tendency to be aggressive, but did demonstrate more patience in 2018 where he walked 13% of the time.
The thought is if he can put it all together, he could be one of the more dynamic players in baseball. Putting it together means translating raw power into in-game power, improving angles and routes in the outfield (though it is said he is showing improvement), and acquiring better instincts on the base paths where his speed can be more of an asset. Not many have the potential speed, power, arm combination that Florial does, but he took a step back in 2019.
New York has a lot of high risk/high upside talent in their system. Clarke Schmidt offers the least risk and profiles as a mid-rotation starter. Luis Gil, Albert Abreu, Luis Medina, and Roansy Contreras all have big arms with huge upside. All of them have substantial risk to go along with them based on age and/or control and command issues. Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe are slick shortstops that are very young. This system is uber-deep with talented prospects that have one or more elite tools.
The Yankees are building a team that looks more like an X-Men movie than a baseball team. Josh Hader certainly fits that profile, and New York has to be enamored with the possibility of him in pinstripes. They also feel a pressure to win World Series titles beyond anything any other teams feels year over year, especially when they have not won one in some time. This might be the time to strike a deal with the evil empire, and Hader would be just the player the Yankees would want to “ensure” a World Series. They also have the pieces to entice the Brewers to part with the best reliever in baseball and possibly even overpay for his services.
By all indications, Stearns and Brian Cashman are talking. Now, whether anything comes to fruition...
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs