Published by Fran Cava
2020 has been a let down for the Brew Crew. Last year’s team undoubtedly overachieved by slipping into the playoffs, thanks to an MVP campaign from Christian Yelich and a great managerial effort from Craig Counsel. So entering this season expectations varied considering the division got stronger, and frankly the rotation looked very thin. The lineup also looked considerably worse when you account for the departures of Grandal, Moustakas, Thames, and Lo Cain who decided to opt-out this season. That being said some still pegged the Brewers as division contenders, while others felt they were destined for a 4th place finish in the Central. While the division as a whole hasn’t played well the latter group seems to be right about the Brewers. Nearly half way through this shortened season Milwaukee has proved they are a very flawed team.
The lineup this season has struggled immensely, including star Christian Yelich who is slashing a whopping .198/.325/.479 through 27 games. The top of the rotation hasn’t been too shabby, getting solid outings from guys like Woodruff and Houser. The bottom of the rotation however has been horrendous, and the struggles have caused the Brewers to play trial and error with their last starter. On the bright side the bullpen has looked phenomenal. Guys like Devin Williams and Eric Yardley have emerged as extremely reflective relievers, while veteran David Phelps is enjoying his best season as a 33 year old set-up man. Of course the biggest name in the pen, Josh Hader is having himself a historic start to the year. The guy has quite literally been “unhittable”, allowing zero hits through 8 innings of work, cementing his perfect save record at 6/6. The problem so far is that he hasn’t gotten enough opportunities due to the Brew Crews struggles, which raises some serious questions with the deadline right around the corner.
Obviously the Brewers are in no rush to move Hader considering he only has 2 years of service time used up, but if a deal were to present itself that could change. It really doesn’t make sense for a team to covet a lights out closer if the lineup and rotation is sub par, so while his value is through the roof it may make the most sense to deal him now. Since entering the league Hader has been a workhorse, in the past being brought in for both save and non-save situations. He has proved to be the most consistent reliever for the past 3 years, and in 162 game season could easily get 50 saves on the right team. So while Milwaukee could keep him around for the future, their organization would benefit more trading him at peak value to get a haul of talent. At his value right now Hader could notch them an Edwin Diaz return, and possibly more if they find a desperate enough GM like Brodie(cough). For a team to pry Josh away it’s going to take a major prospect like Kelenic was, a mid-level prospect, and probably an established everyday player with upside potential. Teams may be hesitant to pull the trigger after the fiasco Diaz turned out to be for the Mets, but Hader also has a better overall track record than him.
Some General Managers have anonymously gone on record saying this may be a quiet deadline due to the uncertainty of the short year and the looming CBA deal. Teams in a prime position to contend this season however may jump at the idea of getting a controllable closer like Hader at the right price. Potential teams in playoff contention that are in dire need of bullpen help include the Cubs, Astros and the Padres. All of which have both viable prospects, and a plethora of young talent that could be thrown into a deal.
Within the next week GM David Stearns is going to have to really evaluate his organizational depth, which is glaringly lacking. With only one top 100 prospect and a major league roster filled with holes in both the lineup and rotation, a blockbuster Hader trade is what Milwaukee may need to start on the right foot this decade.