Padres acquire Hader from Crew in 5-player trade

August 2nd, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres got the closer they were looking for -- and they pulled off a doozy of a deal to make it happen.

San Diego on Monday acquired left-hander from Milwaukee in a wild trade that sees the Major Leagues’ top two saves leaders switching teams midseason.

That’s because the Padres sent lefty Taylor Rogers to the Brewers in return, as part of a four-player package that also includes righty Dinelson Lamet, left-handed pitching prospect Robert Gasser (San Diego's No. 7 prospect, per MLB Pipeline) and outfielder Esteury Ruiz (No. 28 prospect).

Padres get: LHP Josh Hader
Brewers get: LHP Taylor Rogers, RHP Dinelson Lamet, LHP Robert Gasser (Padres' No. 7 prospect), OF Esteury Ruiz (Padres' No. 28 prospect)

Hader departs Milwaukee after six seasons with the Brewers in which he developed into the sport’s premier reliever. He posted a 2.48 ERA, a 0.88 WHIP and an absurd 15.4 strikeouts per nine innings.

“Obviously, I wasn’t expecting it fully, but I knew it was a greater chance than years previous,” Hader said of the trade. “It sucks to leave Milwaukee and everyone here and all the relationships I’ve built over the years. I started my career off here, and the opportunities that go with that. But I always look at [the things] I can control and being able to have a new chapter in my journey. It’s something I’m looking forward to, getting over to San Diego to join their team.”

Hader, who is expected to arrive in San Diego for a doubleheader Tuesday, has been coveted by the Padres for the past several seasons, according to sources. The Brewers had been hesitant to deal him for anything but a massive trade haul. But their asking price dropped recently, and president of baseball operations A.J. Preller was willing to meet it.

Hader, a four-time All-Star with 125 career saves, currently leads the Majors with 29 saves in 2022, though his ERA has jumped to 4.24 as he's struggled a bit in July. It’s been a similar story for Rogers, who started the season strong, but had blown four of his past 10 save opportunities before the Padres made the decision to remove him from the closer's role.

But despite Hader’s recent struggles, his track record is extensive. In consecutive mid-July outings, he allowed a total of nine runs, but he’s allowed just seven runs across 35 other appearances this season. Plus, Hader boasts immense playoff experience, having posted a 1.88 ERA while pitching in each of the past four postseasons.

“He’s Josh Hader -- one of the best closers in the league,” Preller said. “He’s been there, done that, pitched in big spots, big playoff games. He’s got elite stuff. … Taylor Rogers did a great job for us during the first half of the season. But this is somebody that’s been the best in the game in that last inning.”

On top of that, Hader is under contract through 2023. Rogers was a useful piece early this season, and Lamet is a fan favorite in San Diego, having posted a few excellent seasons before he was derailed by injuries. But Rogers will be a free agent after the season, and Lamet was a non-tender candidate. Neither were part of the Padres’ plans after 2022.

Gasser and Ruiz, meanwhile, remain intriguing young pieces, and they enter the Brewers' system as the No. 8 and No. 9 prospects, respectively. Gasser had posted a 4.18 ERA across 18 starts at High-A Fort Wayne this season. Ruiz, who recently received his big league callup, is a speed-and-defense type who had swiped 60 bases with a 1.028 OPS in the Minors this season.

The Brewers, it seems, were doing their best to simultaneously maximize both their short- and long-term chances. They feel Rogers and Lamet can help mitigate the loss of Hader, while Ruiz and Gasser could bring a long-term payoff.

“Today’s trade is about doing everything we can as an organization to continue our mission and our goal of giving our team as many bites at the apple as we possibly can,” said Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns. “As we look around the industry, teams that have been able to sustain consistent competitiveness, get into the playoffs, compete for the playoffs every single year -- these are teams that at times have to make very difficult decisions. And today’s decision to trade Josh Hader was a difficult decision. We’re thrilled with the amount of talent and the diversity of talent that we were able to get back in this trade.”

That didn’t make moving Hader easy.

“Josh has performed at an elite level here for a long time,” Stearns said. “He has contributed to some of the biggest moments in Brewers history. And that’s how he’s going to be remembered here, and deservedly so.”

With Monday's deal, Hader becomes the first All-Star to be traded away from a first-place team since Yoenis Cespedes went from Oakland to Boston in 2014.

Leave it to Preller to pull off an All-Star-caliber blockbuster. And he almost certainly isn’t done.

"We like our team,” Preller said. “We like our group. We think adding Josh Hader today helps us out. But we'll see. We'll see what happens.”