Don’t fool yourselves when it comes to Josh Hader, Yankees fans.
Most of us have been alive long enough to understand how the MLB trade market works. Almost every player, in theory, is available for the right price. Teams aren’t going to hang up the phone just because an opposing general manager is interested in acquiring a player of a certain premier caliber.
So, for example, if the Los Angeles Angels say they’re not open to trading Mike Trout, that’s totally understandable, but that could change in a heartbeat if a team came knocking with a track package that would immediately turn their fortunes around. That’s why there are typically lengthy discussions surrounding trades.
That’s why we want to warn New York Yankees fans not to get too excited about the Milwaukee Brewers reportedly “intending” to listen to offers involving star closer Josh Hader. They’ve gotten calls about him in the past when he wasn’t on the block. Why would the price tag change dramatically this time around?
If anything, Hader might be more expensive heading into 2021 given the current climate. He’s in his prime and he’s under club control for the next three seasons. Though he won’t be cheap (he’s projected to earn nearly $7 million in his first year of arbitration eligibility), it’s still a bargain when you look at other closers around the league earning $16-$20 million per season.
The 27-year-old is in his prime, strikes out more than 15 batters per nine innings, has a 0.86 career WHIP, and has proven his worth in the postseason, where he owns a 1.46 ERA across nine games (12.1 innings).
Milwaukee reportedly now “intending” to listen to offers for the left-hander simply means they’re more willing to move him than they’ve ever been. That’s not going to change the asking price. There’s a reason they’re getting this information out there this early. They view Hader as a guy who can get them a big return and improve their short-term window after the emergence of Devin Williams, who, in all likelihood, could take over as closer.
And if that’s what Brewers fans are proposing in a potential trade, you can forget about it. Hader’s great, but he’ll merely be a bridge in the bullpen for the next two seasons. He’s not an everyday impact player like Gleyber Torres or a high-ceiling starter like Luis Severino.
Above all, the Yankees need starting pitching. They could use a couple of mid-tier additions to the bullpen to help patch up the Adam Ottavino/Jonathan Loaisiga holes, but that’s about it. The Green-Britton-Chapman trio is alive and well, even though we were frustrated how it all came crashing down against the Rays in the ALDS.
Overpaying for a reliever isn’t the answer (unless GM Brian Cashman has a secondary move to make up for it, like trading Chapman). If the Yankees are going to part ways with prospect capital, doing that with starting pitching is likely the answer, especially with Hader’s value arguably at its peak.