Josh Hader’s name surfaced in trade rumors both at this year’s deadline and last winter, as teams understandably inquired on one of the game’s most prolific strikeout arms. There was never any real indication that the Brewers were in serious trade talks regarding the left-hander, though, and over the weekend, president of baseball operations David Stearns all but confirmed that nothing was ever close. Speaking in an appearance on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter link, with audio), Stearns acknowledged that he listened to offers on Hader but chalked it up to due diligence and strongly downplayed the possibility of moving Hader anytime in the near future:
..There are always going to be calls on elite players in the game, and certainly Josh is no different. But we believe he’s a really valuable member of our team and will be going forward. I think there are a couple times of year where you’re going to get that volume of calls: the trade deadline and around the Winter Meetings. Sometimes into Spring Training, the volume of calls picks up. That was certainly the case this deadline, and when you get calls, it’s our obligation to listen and engage and see if something makes sense. With all of that said, as I said before, Josh is a really important member of our team. We’re not looking to move him. We’ve never really looked to move him, and I don’t really anticipate that changing.”
That’s a bit short of former Braves GM John Coppolella’s declaration that he’d sooner give his right arm than trade Freddie Freeman, who remains in Atlanta a half-decade after that comment, but it’s still a notable on-record statement about a disinclination to move the 26-year-old Hader.
There have been plenty of trade rumors surrounding Hader dating back to last offseason, when the Brewers defeated him in arbitration. There was a wide gap between the two sides then, as the Brewers presented $4.1MM and Hader requested $6.4MM. Hader said after the decision came down that arbitration for relievers was “outdated.” That may be true, but considering he’s still scheduled to go through the arb process three more times, the Brewers haven’t felt any urgency to part with Hader so far.
Hader was fresh off his third straight stellar season last winter, of course, but the two-time All-Star hasn’t been as sharp in 2020. Granted, a large portion of the damage Hader has suffered this year came in a four-run, one-inning blowup against the Cubs on Saturday. With that performance factored in, he owns a 4.30 ERA/4.50 FIP with 14.11 K/9 and a career-worst 6.14 BB/9 across 14 2/3 frames this season. Teams still probably won’t be deterred from continuing to try to acquire Hader from the Brewers during the upcoming offseason, but Stearns clearly isn’t in any hurry to give him up.