Should the Brewers trade Josh Hader? Maybe, but definitely not right now. For a Josh Hader trade to take place right now it would either mean the Brewers are in sell mode one year after throwing the bank at Christian Yelich, or it would need to involve the Brewers receiving major league ready players. The reason it is unlikely to happen because two buyers rarely trade with each other. Trades involving players of Hader’s caliber usually involve one team trying to win now and one team building for the future.
Why do people keep bringing up a Hader trade?
Josh Hader’s name keeps popping up in trade rumors for a few reasons. First off, because teams want him. In the entire history of Major League Baseball Hader has the best K/9 (15.29), K% (44.1%), and the seventh best ERA+ at 171 (min. 100 IP).
There’s also the fact that trading key-players is something small market teams are known to do. The Brewers themselves have shipped off fan-favorites like Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Gomez in the last decade. The difference here is those trades happened when the Brewers were sellers. With what is projected to be a down year for the National League Central, now is not the time for the Brewers to sell.
The Reds and Cubs both lost their staff aces. The Pirates want nothing to do with winning. While the Cardinals did add Nolan Arenado, the Brewers managed to steal their gold glove winning second baseman. After all that, Baseball Prospectus’s PECOTA projections actually have the Brewers narrowly edging out the Cardinals to win the Central.
If Not Now, When?
There are three realistic options here. The first is December of 2022 through January 2023. With one full season left under team control this is the first realistic time a trade would occur. Some see this as the time when a player holds the most trade value, but David Stearns has a history of holding out until the trade deadline.
Therefore, the most likely time for a trade to occur would be July of 2023. Even though they started their rebuild early on in the 2014 season, they sat on their expiring contracts through the off-season. They knew they wouldn’t be competitive in 2015, but they didn’t trade Carlos Gomez until the trade deadline. They knew they wouldn’t be competitive in 2016, but they didn’t trade Jonathan Lucroy until the deadline. While the overall value of the player may seem lower, the demand for him will be at its peak.
The last option here would be to not trade him. While relief pitchers don’t exactly ooze sex appeal the way staff aces or home run hitter’s do, pitchers that put up the historic kind of numbers Hader puts out don’t come along too often. With Yelich being signed through 2028, the Brewers should at least be competitive through the life of Hader’s arbitration years.
Has Hader’s value dropped due to performance?
With Hader acting as a standard closer in 2020 he had the worst ERA of his career; a still impressive 3.79 ERA. However, with 2020 being a shortened season his ERA doesn’t tell the whole story.
In the 2020 season, Josh Hader pitched in 21 games. He didn’t allow a hit until his 13th outing, and only allowed runs in four games. His 3.79 ERA is ballooned mostly by one bad outing in which he allowed four runs, good for half of the runs he allowed all season.
What happens if they don’t trade Hader?
If the Brewers never pull the trigger on a trade one of three things will happen. The least likely being that his contract expires, the Brewers don’t make him an offer, and he signs with another team with the Brewers gaining nothing.
The most likely being his contract expires, the Brewers make him a qualifying offer, someone else offers him more money, he signs with them, and the Brewers get a first round compensation draft pick.
The last option being the Brewers re-sign him and keep one of the top pitcher/positional player duos intact for the better part of a decade.
While there is a chance a team offers the moon for Hader in the next 17 months, his trade value for the Brewers won’t peak for a couple of years. So if you prefer a Hader trade to drinking the Haderade, you shouldn’t hold your breath.