Yankees Rumors: Josh Hader and the prohibitive cost of trading for him


While it remains a longshot, according to Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees have been the “most active pursuer” of Brewers reliever Josh Hader. With four years remaining of club control, the 25-year-old left-hander will cost an arm and a leg.

With Dellin Betances likely to sign elsewhere this winter, the Yankees have an opening in their bullpen for an experienced shut-down relief pitcher. And while those don’t fall off trees, it came as a surprise that the Yanks were connected to recent NL Reliever of the Year, Josh Hader.

For one, the Brewers are home to one of the games brightest young stars in Christian Yelich. Just one season removed from an MVP award, the Brewers are solid offensively, yet could use upgrades to their starting rotation.

Therefore, you would think trading Hader, a rock at the back of the bullpen — one that can pitch multiple innings, would be a lateral move. However, perhaps the Brewers believe now is the time to cash in on Hader, and acquire a haul of players that are either ready to help right now — or in the not so distant future.

With a farm system that ranked No. 26 last season, according to Joseph Werner of Prospect Digest, second baseman Keston Hiura graduated to the bigs in 2019, which should only knock the Brewers’ ranking down a few slots. In comparison, Prospect Digest put the Yanks at No. 14.

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Naturally, any trade the Yankees will be connected to this offseason will begin with the opposite club asking for Miguel Andujar. The 24-year-old slugger returns in 2020 after missing all but 12 games last season, and although there will continue to be questions regarding his overall defensive ability, with a fully healed right labrum, the 2018 AL Rookie of the Year runner-up should be able to pick up where he left off, offensively.

While keeping Andujar in the AL because of the designated hitter rule seems advantageous, Milwaukee could be comfortable plugging in Andujar at the hot corner considering that light-hitting Luis Urias is currently penciled in as their starter — and he’s a second baseman by trade.

However, the Yanks may want to wait to see if Gio Ursehla can duplicate his breakout 2019 campaign, not mention, Andujar can always DH if Giancarlo Stanton plays left field. Also, there’s no proof New York even wants to trade Andujar — instead, just random teams asking for him.

A more realistic package of young players could center around Clint Frazier. At 25, now is the time for Frazier to prove himself at the major league level. He’s hit all throughout the minors — and keeping him in Scranton any longer could severely stunt his potential.

If Frazier isn’t in the plans to consistently play left field, because Aaron Hicks is out until August and Brett Gardner remains in center, then trading Frazier would be best for all parties involved.

The Yanks could also include promising right-handers Michael King or Clarke Schmidt. Getting Milwaukee to take J.A. Happ’s $17M contract would be a huge bonus, but they’d want retribution for doing so.

Projected to make $4.6 million as a Super Two, Hader could attempt to argue for more money in 2020 as Dellin Betances did and failed at in 2017.

With Zack Britton, Aroldis Chapman, and Hader, New York would have three of the games top left-handed relievers — a scary proposition for the 29 other clubs. However, after solidifying the starting rotation with the signing of Gerrit Cole, Hader should be looked at as more of a luxury than a necessity.

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There’s no doubt that Hader is electric, and can pitch in any situation dictated. However, the Yankees need to decide if he’s worth further draining the farm system, in addition to giving up on talented youngsters that have proved worthy on the big stage. With the Yankees currently $40 million over the luxury tax, you have to wonder how much more Hal Steinbrenner is willing to spend?