It’s the MLB offseason, and Josh Hader is still on the roster with the Milwaukee Brewers, so it was only a matter of time until the trade rumors began swirling. The left-hander was once again named as the NL Reliever of the Year and is coming off the best season of his career, posting a 1.23 ERA and 34 saves in 58.2 innings pitched. Largely seen as the game’s top southpaw bullpen arm, if not the best overall reliever in baseball, the case could be made that this might offseason be the best, last opportunity for the Brewers to maximize their possible trade return for their closer.
Due an estimated $10 mil coming up in arbitration, Hader has two seasons of reserve control remaining entering 2022. That level of pay may not be owner-friendly enough for the Brewers, who are currently projected to begin next year with a payroll over $110 mil even without adding anyone else to the fold. The team needs to figure out how to improve their offense, and one way they could do that is to leverage Hader as a trade piece this winter, rather than wait until he racks up more saves, gets an even higher salary in arbitration, and gets another year closer to free agency.
That said, there should be no shortage of interest in Hader and we can probably expect him to be linked to a number of different teams this winter. The first one, according to Jon Heyman, is the Philadelphia Phillies.
Phillies need two OFs and a SP (or two), but closer is a priority. On their wish list: Josh Hader, Craig Kimbrel and Kenley Jansen. Since Brewers would require a haul for Hader and Jansen loves LA, their best shot might be Kimbrel, who has a Dombrowski tie (Boston) @MLBNetwork— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 19, 2021
Heyman notes that trading for Hader “would require a haul” from the Phillies or anyone else, and in the past the Brewers have sought both top prospects and MLB-level talent in return for their ace reliever. Philadelphia has a number of controllable players on their MLB roster at positions of need for the Brewers — including 1B Rhys Hoskins, 3B Alec Bohm, and OF Adam Haseley — as well as a pair of MLB Pipeline top-100 prospects in RHP Mick Abel and SS Bryson Stott.
It remains to be seen if any combination of those players, or others from the Phillies organization, would be enough to entice the Brewers to part with Hader. Milwaukee could always choose to keep him, as well, and decide just to spend more money to upgrade their offense.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference