The San Diego Padres pulled off a trade for Milwaukee Brewers closer Josh Hader on Monday, landing one of the best bullpen arms in baseball. The Brewers' return for Hader was noticeably light, as it didn't include any of San Diego's top prospects. In making the deal, the Padres addressed a glaring weakness at the back end of their bullpen.
Hader is one of the best closers in Major League Baseball. The lefty is a four-time All-Star and three-time NL Reliever of the Year. He's been dominant since his first season with the Brewers in 2018. In fact, he's probably in the midst of his worst professional season. Hader is currently 1-4 with a 4.24 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP. He has 29 saves in 31 opportunities and is still striking out 41.8 percent of batters he faces.
A deeper look into the numbers shows Hader has really just had a bad July. His ERA went from 1.05 on July 3, up to 4.50 on July 24. His ERA for the month was a robust 12.54. That largely came from back-to-back outings where he melted down. On July 13, he allowed three runs against the the Twins without retiring a batter. It was his second blown save of the year as he took the loss. Against the Giants on July 15, Hader got one out but allowed six runs on five hits, including three home runs.
The good news for the Padres is that Hader has allowed only one run on three hits in his four appearances since.
In exchange for Hader, the Brewers will receive San Diego's floundering closer Taylor Rogers. Rogers has blown seven saves this season and has really struggled over the past two months. They will also get the formerly-dominant Dinelson Lamet -- who hasn't been the same since an elbow injury in 2019 -- speedy center fielder Esteury Ruiz and 23-year-old pitcher Robert Gasser, who is currently in High-A ball. None of the players headed to Milwaukee featured prominently into San Diego's future plans and they didn't surrender any top prospects.
Hader is under contract through 2023, so this isn't a rental. If he returns to his non-July form, this looks like a big win for the Padres on the surface. They have retained all of their top prospects to make other deals if needed and Hader is a far better closer than Rogers.
As for the Brewers, they had to move Hader eventually. They were going to lose him after 2023 anyway, and they have Devin Williams ready to step in and take over as their closer. I'm surprised the return for a pitcher of Hader's caliber was so light, but that might have something to do with his rough July. Had they traded him in spring training you'd have to think they would have gotten far more.
In the end, the Padres filled one of their biggest needs with one of the best in the business. This looks like a massive win for general manager A.J. Preller.