The Milwaukee Brewers traded All-Star closer Josh Hader to the San Diego Padres on Monday afternoon, sending the most dominant reliever in baseball in recent years to a team that has struggled in late-inning situations this season.
The deal, which will send left-handed reliever Taylor Rogers, left-handed pitching prospect Robert Gasser, right-hander Dinelson Lamet and outfielder Esteury Ruiz to the Brewers, came together after the Brewers fielded extensive interest this week on Hader, sources told ESPN.
While the 28-year-old Hader has a career-worst 4.24 ERA, evaluators say his stuff remains elite and that if not for two poor outings on back-to-back days before the All-Star break, his ERA would be under 2.00. In 34 innings this season, Hader has struck out 59 batters, walked 12 and allowed seven home runs.
"Josh Hader is one of the best closers in the league,'' Padres general manager A.J. Preller said. "He's been there, done that, pitched in big spots, big playoff games. He's got elite stuff.''
Milwaukee's willingness to deal Hader, after years of considering it -- including in potential deals with the Padres -- was surprising but not altogether shocking. Hader, who is making $11 million this season, should see his salary jump into the $16 million range in his final year of arbitration next season. After 2023, he'll reach free agency.
"We felt this was the right time, and it was only a player of that caliber that could garner such a significant return to make such an impact on the future of the organization,'' Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns said.
Hader issued an Instagram post thanking the city of Milwaukee for embracing him. He had spent his entire major league career with the Brewers, who acquired him along with Adrian Houser, Brett Phillips and Domingo Santana in a 2015 trade that sent Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers to the Houston Astros.
"Thank you for the support throughout my career,'' Hader said. "Y'all have been great to me. The people, the energy, the love! There will always be a special place in my heart for MKE."
San Diego, with a win-now attitude, will replace Rogers with Hader -- and is far from done. None of the players San Diego included in the deal for Hader were seen as central options in its pursuit of Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto, who could be moved before the 6 p.m. ET trade deadline Tuesday.
Still, San Diego paid significantly for Hader. Rogers might be the most recognizable name in the deal -- he is second in the National League with 28 saves -- but he is far from the most important player to Milwaukee. (He will be a free agent after this season.) The 23-year-old Ruiz shredded Triple-A this season, slashing .344/.474/.611, and made his big league debut last month. Gasser has struck out 115 and walked just 28 in 90⅓ innings at High-A, where he's pitching his first full season after San Diego selected him in the second round of the 2021 draft. Lamet, 30, is the wild card of the deal. During the shortened 2020 season, he finished fourth in National League Cy Young voting. Injuries and ineffectiveness have plagued him since, and he has a 9.49 ERA in 12⅓ major league innings this season, but a 1.93 ERA with a hefty strikeout rate in Triple-A.
The Brewers will assign Ruiz to Triple-A Nashville and Gasser to Double-A Biloxi.
Milwaukee's appetite for moving a figure as seminal to its recent success as Hader, a four-time All-Star and winner of three of the past four NL Reliever of the Year awards, was never voracious. But the presence of that fourth winner, Devin Williams, certainly helped. In a setup role with Milwaukee, Williams last allowed a run May 10 -- a streak of 30 games in which he has thrown 28⅔ innings of 47-strikeout, eight-walk, no-run ball.
Rogers is 1-5 with a 4.35 ERA and seven blown saves. After a strong start to the season, Rogers posted a 5.59 ERA in June and a 9.31 ERA in July.
"In Taylor's case, a lot of this was and is reliever volatility that we can see,'' Stearns said of Rogers' recent struggles. "We think this is a good pitcher who's going to perform for us. And we think our staff will be able to get the best out of him.''
Milwaukee has a three-game lead over St. Louis in the NL Central, and the Padres have a 1½-game lead over Philadelphia for the second NL wild card.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.