Josh Hader trade grades: Padres get 'A' as Juan Soto pursuit stays alive; Brewers earn 'C' for surprising move

Josh Hader trade grades: Padres get ‘A’ as Juan Soto pursuit stays alive; Brewers earn ‘C’ for surprising move

The Padres and Brewers made the most surprising trade of the deadline on Monday, with San Diego landing All-Star closer Josh Hader in exchange for four players: reliever Taylor Rogers, right-hander Dinelson Lamet, and prospects Robert Gasser and Esteury Ruiz.

The Padres and Brewers are both making gambles here. The Padres are hoping that Hader’s recent trouble is mere turbulence, and not the beginning of the end of his reign of dominance; the Brewers are crossing their fingers that they can get similar production from Rogers the rest of the way, and enough from Lamet, Gasser, and Ruiz to justify bailing on Hader’s additional year of team control. Coincidentally, these two teams could wind up playing one another in the postseason, adding to the intrigue.

We here at CBS Sports are nothing if not judgmental, and that means offering near-instant analysis on big trades this time of the year. Below, you’ll find grades for both the Padres and the Brewers, along with explanations for those assessments. 

With that out of the way, let’s begin by recapping the deal:

Padres receive

Brewers receive

  • LHP Taylor Rogers
  • RHP Dinelson Lamet
  • OF Esteury Ruiz
  • LHP Robert Gasser

Padres grade: A

As noted in the introduction, this trade is a straightforward one for the Padres. General manager A.J. Preller is betting that Hader’s rough July is a blip rather than the early signs of decay. If he’s correct, then the Padres will have added one of the game’s premier relievers for a package of players they’re unlikely to miss. And they’ll have added said reliever for not just one, but potentially two postseason runs.

Hader, for those who didn’t notice, had a crummy July. He entered the month with a 1.09 ERA on the season and he exited with a 4.24 mark. He surrendered five of the seven home runs he’s given up all year within a six-appearance stretch, including one instance, on July 15, when he gave up three home runs in a span of seven batters. 

Hader has always been more prone to the long ball than the standard elite reliever. His current home-run rate per nine, of 1.9, is only a smidge worse than the 1.8 figure he posted in 2019. He finished that season with a 2.62 ERA, and he’s since had successful seasons in both 2020 and 2021, suggesting this could be within his realm of normalcy.

The Padres don’t have to rely on that kind of wide-lens analysis here. They can dig in deeper on Hader, and specifically on his fastball’s movement profile. He’s always been an oddball, a lefty who loves to elevate his mid-to-upper-90s sinker within the zone, and who gets away with it because of his unusual release point and spin profile

With that in mind, here’s a month-by-month look at Hader’s fastball this season:

April

96.4 mph

-8.3 inches

-10.8 inches

18.3 inches

May

97.6 mph

-7.9 inches

-11.1 inches

17.3 inches

June

97.3 mph

-8.7 inches

-11.2 inches

17.4 inches

July

97.4 mph

-8.6 inches

-11.7 inches

16.94 inches

The one shift is that Hader has lost some vertical break, but even his July amount was in line with what he posted throughout the 2020 season. We’ll level with you: the Brewers’ quants are smarter than us, and they have access to more and better data than we do; it’s wholly possible that they’re detecting something that gives them confidence that Hader’s trip downtown will turn into a permanent residency. We, on the other hand, do not see any indication that he’s in the process of a rapid decay.

If you agree there’s a reasonable chance Hader will return to a dominant or near-dominant form, then you’re almost obligated to think this was a worthwhile deal for the Padres. After all, Preller gave up a pair of underperforming big-league arms and two prospects whose losses won’t impact his pursuit of Juan Soto or other big fish. The Padres didn’t take on a ton of additional cash here, either, at least not for this season — Hader’s arbitration prize for next season, his walk year, will be hefty for a reliever, though the Padres are better equipped to handle that than the Brewers.

Brewers grade: C

You can see the logic here. The Brewers are, presumably, thinking they can get most of Hader’s production from Rogers for the rest of the season. They’re also thinking that they can make up for Hader’s additional year of control — a year they were unlikely to ever benefit from directly, anyway — by coaching up Lamet, Ruiz, and Gasser. 

The Brewers have a savvy front office, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise if those bets prove to be winners in due time (in part because relievers are volatile, especially in smaller samples). Right now, though? They look iffy from this vantage point. Maybe that’s to be expected. Everyone knew the Brewers were likely to move Hader this winter, giving them reduced leverage. Hader’s recent struggles (and escalating price tag) did them no favors. Still, there’s a fair chance they end up either seeing the Padres in the playoffs or competing with them for a spot, and that makes things awkward. 

Besides, when teams trade away impact players — even relievers — you expect to see them gain a clear long-term asset. The Brewers didn’t do that here. Rogers can leave at season’s end, and Lamet won’t be far behind him (presuming he shows enough to be tendered this winter). Ruiz and Gasser are both interesting in their own respects, but neither is a clear can’t-miss contributor, at least not in any meaningful way.

Rogers, like Hader, is sporting worse numbers than usual thanks to an eventful July. To put it another way, he’ll join the Brewers having surrendered at least one run in 14 of his 42 appearances to date; seven of those came during July, causing his ERA to swell from 2.84 entering the month to its present 4.35 mark. Rogers’ larger body of work suggests he’s an above-average reliever, albeit without achieving the sky-high heights of Hader, and without that additional year of team control. 

Lamet is much older than further along on his service-time clock than you might expect. He celebrated his 30th birthday in July, and he’s closing in on five full years of service, putting him a year away from reaching the open market. He’s spent the entire season pitching out of relief for the first time in his career, and he’s enjoyed more success on the minor-league side than in the majors. When Lamet has been in The Show, he’s shown off a swing-and-miss slider and a mid-90s fastball. It’s now on the Brewers to help him stay healthy and make the most of his power arsenal — the clock is ticking, too, since he’ll be projected to earn $5 million-plus next season, making him a legitimate non-tender candidate this winter.

Ruiz, 23, recently made his big-league debut and has batted .222/.222/.333 in 27 trips to the dish. (He’d earned the promotion by hitting .333/.467/.560 across the upper minor-league levels.) Ruiz transitioned last season from the infield to the outfield, where his top-notch speed (he ranks in the 99th percentile in sprint speed) should play up. He doesn’t have a strong arm, so his future is either in center or left. The bigger question facing him is his bat. Ruiz has some raw pop and he’s made strides with both his walk and strikeout rates, but it’s to be seen if he’ll hit enough to be more than a fun bench piece.

Gasser, 23, was the 71st pick in the 2021 draft by way of the University of Houston. He’s spent the season in High-A, posting a 4.18 ERA and a 4.11 strikeout-to-walk ratio across 18 starts. Gasser is on the smaller side (he’s listed at 6-foot-1) and he releases the ball from a lower arm slot, creating an unusual angle. He relies on a three-pitch mix that grades out as more average than not. The Brewers have had success getting more from seemingly so-so profiles with funky arm actions or release points, making him one worth monitoring.


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