With the top end of the relief market going off the board early, teams looking for elite pen arms have been eyeing trade possibilities. The most intriguing of those: star Brewers lefty Josh Hader, who was recently reported to have been made available in talks. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic recently updated the market situation (subscription link).
Left-handed American League East hitters will be particularly distraught to learn that the Yankees “have been the most active pursuer” of Hader. The Yanks already possess two dynamic southpaws in Aroldis Chapman and Zack Britton. Having already brought in Chapman and Gerrit Cole this offseason, a move for Hader would make a stunning trifecta of high-powered arms.
Other clubs have also put in calls to Brewers GM David Stearns. The list includes the Dodgers and Mets, according to Rosenthal. No doubt a variety of other organizations are also checking in to see whether it might be possible to structure a mutually agreeable trade. Hader could take over as a traditional closer or function as a roving high-leverage out-getter, as suits a given team’s preferences.
Hader’s appeal lies not only in his strikeout-producing left arm, but also his age (26 in April) and contract rights. He’s controllable for four more seasons through the arbitration process. Those won’t come cheap, as Hader projects to earn $4.6MM as a Super Two and could yet attempt to argue for more in a high-stakes hearing. (A prior attempt to shake up the arb system for relievers didn’t work out for Dellin Betances, though Hader has more saves to his record.) Still, it’s a far sight shy of what it would cost to acquire a similar pitcher on the open market — not that it’s even possible to do so.