We still don’t know for sure what Padres beat writer Kevin Acee was referencing earlier this week when he said Padres GM A.J. Preller was still working on something shocking, but there was reasonable speculation at the time that it could be a trade for Brewers closer Josh Hader.
Not only do the Padres have an arguable need for an elite closer to button up the roster, and not only have the Brewers and Padres successfully put together a trade in the recent past, but you also have the Brewers almost certainly super duper interested in trading Hader for value right now before he risks further waning in performance at the same time his arbitration price tag climbs. It always tracked that the Padres could want Hader, though after their flurry of aggressive moves this offseason, it reached a point where you couldn’t bet on them to make ANOTHER major acquisition.
So, *if* Acee was talking about Hader, then it would make sense why he would say he would be shocked if the Padres could pull it off – not because the fit doesn’t make sense, but because you just don’t see teams do as much as the Padres have done in the last 12 months.
Based on Ken Rosenthal’s latest – which, to be clear, indicates a trade is not likely to happen – I’m going to guess that the big mystery move was, indeed, an attempt to get Hader.
Rosenthal includes a whole section in his latest roundup not to report on the rumor, but instead to lay out why it’s not going to happen. Kinda seems like you wouldn’t do that unless that was the rumor making the rounds:
The Padres and Brewers have discussed Hader intermittently over the past few years, but the two sides do not currently line up for a trade, sources say. The Brewers want affordable, controllable major-league pieces for Hader. Infielder Jake Cronenworth and left-handed reliever Tim Hill are among those who fit that description, and the Padres want to keep such players ….
Hader would appear the missing link, and the Brewers very well might trade him before the start of 2022, when he will enter the third of his four years of arbitration and his salary will increase from $6.675 million. But the Padres believe they should be strong enough from the left side with Pomeranz, Hill and Matt Strahm, who’s expected to return from right patellar tendon knee surgery early in the season.
Puffing by the Padres because they don’t want to give up a lot? Well, sure. It’s worked in their other acquisitions over the last year! But I also think, based on the risks that lie ahead for Hader’s value, they arguably shouldn’t have to give up a massive package, and the Brewers would just have to decide how much they want to absorb that risk themselves. If Hader is great in the first half but they fall out of it, then his trade value might actually peak this July. But if some of the trends that have been developing under the hood continue, and if he loses his closing job to Devin Williams, well, his value might crater.
I don’t really have a rooting interest here, because I don’t really want to see the Brewers load up on impact prospects or players by moving a guy about whom I have some doubts going forward. Then again, I also don’t really want to see Josh Hader out there facing anyone but Jason Heyward and Ildemaro Vargas.