The Milwaukee Brewers informed teams in early July that four-time All-Star closer Josh Hader was available, believing they could still win the NL Central without him, but warned the asking price would be steep.
Well, they’ll soon find out if they’re right in their assessment, trading Hader to the San Diego Padres on Monday for Trevor Rogers, starter Dinelson Lamet, prospect Robert Gasser and outfielder Esteury Ruiz.
Oh, and for the Padres, they’re all in.
They are the frontrunners to acquire prized outfielder Juan Soto from the Washington Nationals and are in talks with the Oakland A’s for ace Frankie Montas.
Oh, and just to boost their confidence that they can still make the playoffs for the first time in a full season since 2006, with a deep October run, Fernando Tatis Jr. at $340 million is expected to begin a rehab assignment this weekend and make his season debut in mid-August.
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Meanwhile, the Brewers believe their trade will not only allow them to stay atop the NL Central, but they will remain contenders for the next several years with their haul.
“The players we receive in this trade help ensure that the future of the Milwaukee Brewers remains bright while not compromising our desire and expectation to win today,” Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns said. “This combination of Major League talent and high-level prospects furthers our goal of getting as many bites of the apple as possible and ultimately bringing a World Series to Milwaukee.
“Trading good players to good teams is difficult, and that’s certainly the case with Josh. We also recognize that to give our organization the best chance of sustained competitiveness, to avoid the extended periods that so many organizations experience, we need to make decisions that are not easy”.
Devin Williams, his reliever for the All-Star setup, has not given up an earned run in his last 30 appearances, carrying a .115 batting average with 47 strikeouts in 28 ⅔ innings. He becomes their new closer, while Rodgers, who has 28 saves but recently lost the closer role, will be the Brewers’ setup.
The Brewers, who had planned to trade Hader this winter, knowing he would earn about $17 million in salary arbitration and be eligible for free agency in one year, believe now was the time to move him. They had also dealt with his recent struggles. Since July 4th he has a 14.04 ERA, allowing 15 hits and 13 earned runs over his last 8 ⅓ innings, an ugly .385/.455/.872 slash line.
Well, now the Brewers worry if they can still win the NL Central without Hader, ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals by three games.
So the Padres aren’t acting like a small-market team, signing ace Joe Musgrove to a five-year, $100 million contract extension earlier in the day. They have a payroll that will exceed the $230 million luxury tax, and they won’t mind exceeding it completely if they can land Soto as well.
The Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers are also aggressively pursuing Soto, but the Padres are acting with more urgency.
After all, they have GM AJ Preller at the helm, who loves star players. Because, just since 2019, they’ve acquired Manny Machdao, Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Mike Clevinger, Sean Manaea, and even manager Bob Melvin.
Now, add Hader to the list.
Soto could be next.
The Nationals told the Padres and everyone else exactly what it would take.
Now they’re waiting for the Padres to match their price or simply hold onto him until the winter.
Trade deadline is 6 p.m. ET Tuesday, and there isn’t a soul in the baseball industry who believes the Padres have any intention of stopping now.
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This article originally appeared in USA TODAY: 2002 MLB Trade Deadline: Brewers Trade All-Star Closer Josh Hader