In the middle of an offseason roster overhaul, Josh Hader trade rumors have been linked to three specific teams: Yankees, Dodgers, and Mets. Here I will propose what one Josh Hader-Mets trade package could look like.
The Brewers are not desperately shopping Josh Hader, but if the return from a club is right; a deal may be struck. This means the Brewers will be looking for at least a few proven, reliable players in a trade involving Josh Hader.
The Mets have reportedly been looking to shed bad contracts. This would make you believe Michael Conforto and Jed Lowrie are potential trade candidates. However, I can’t see the Brewers willing to take any of these contracts in which both players will earn more than $9 million in 2020.
Constructing a trade revolving around any of the Mets’ top pitching talents in: Noah Syndergaard, Jacob DeGrom, Marcus Stroman, or Edwin Diaz is complicated. Trying to acquire the Polar Bear in Peter Alonso is also tricky, and well, unlikely. For the purposes of this article those players will not be listed in this trade package for Josh Hader.
If the Met’s were to propose a trade, here is what I think might land them the National League Reliever of the year each of the past two seasons:
How does this trade benefit the Brewers?
The Brewers would acquire two proven MLB players in Jeff McNeil and Seth Lugo. McNeil would be under club control until 2025 and Lugo until 2023. While Jeff McNeil has played primarily in the outfield during his 2 year MLB career, he has played a significant amount of 2B and 3B as well. The Brewers would accept this trade with the idea that he would be the everyday 3B in 2020.
McNeil makes excellent contact and hits for a high average. His power and slugging numbers increased tremendously from 2018 to 2019. His .531 slugging percentage in 2019 is impressive and having hit 23 home runs I think having this lefty hitter play half his games in Miller Park could increase them even more.
The biggest question mark of a trade revolving around Jeff McNeil is if he could make the transition full time to third base. He has logged 170 innings at 3B throughout his career but that is nothing compared to his 700+ innings at 2B and 671 innings in the outfield.
Lugo, a former starter, is entering his first year of arbitration and is projected to make $1.9MM in 2020 according to MLB Trade Rumors. In 2019 he excelled in his first full bullpen season, posting a 2.70 ERA in 80 frames of work. He has the ability to work multiple innings and his 11.7 K:9 in 2019 was a career high. Including Seth Lugo in this trade helps keep a reliable high leverage arm in the Brewers bullpen.
Dominic Smith is a 1B/OF prospect for the Mets. In parts of three MLB seasons he has only accrued 467 at bats. His career slash line reads .236/.295/.450/.745. His low career batting average is mainly due to hitting under .200 in his first season. Smith’s average has increased in the two years following that at a .224 in 2018 and .282 in 2019.
Smith was having a nice season in 2019 before a foot injury ended his season towards the end of July. Up to that point he finished 2019 hitting .282 and slugging .525. His 11 home runs was a new career high as well.
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Defensively, Smith has the ability to play multiple positions. With the Brewers recently acquiring 1B Justin Smoak it appears they are set with an every day 1B, but Smith could fill in at 1B as needed while also drawing some outfield starts. However, it will be hard to get Smith on the field given the OF depth of the Brewers too. With Smoak only on a one-year deal, Smith could be the future at first base starting in 2021.
How does this trade benefit the Mets?
Acquiring Josh Hader is the obvious answer. Pairing Josh Hader and Edwin Diaz together will equal insane strikeout totals between the two players. The Mets would have club control over two of the best strikeout relievers in baseball until 2023.
Lucas Erceg is the last piece of this deal. I included him to combat the fact the Mets would be losing OF/INF Jeff McNeil and 1B/OF Dominic Smith. Erceg can play either of the corner infield spots with 3B his primary position. He struggled last season in the higher ranks of minor league ball, but is an excellent few weeks in Triple-A away from being promoted to a big league club. A former high draft pick, Erceg could benefit from a move to New York.
What are the chances this deal happens?
Unsure at this point. While most trade packages revolving around Josh Hader include bigger names or prospects from other clubs, this package is a bit more modest but still results in a big haul for the Brewers.
The tough part of this deal, is convincing the Mets to part with Jeff McNeil. He’s a key piece of their roster and losing him will be tough to replace. But perhaps the idea of Josh Hader and an improved Edwin Diaz together for the next few years is something that’s too tempting for agent-turned GM Brodie Van Wagenen to turn down. After all, he gave up stud prospects Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn for Diaz last offseason.
Van Wagenen may try to sell the Brewers on someone like JD Davis as the headliner instead of McNeil, but with his defensive liabilities, the Brewers would be wiser to insist on McNeil.
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If the Brewers are going to trade Josh Hader, they need a couple of useful, big league pieces back. This trade satisfies that, and is at the very least, more realistic than our proposed Yankees package was.