Brewers News

Milwaukee Brewers Surprisingly Win Arbitration Case Against Josh Hader

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 01: Josh Hader #71 of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches against the Washington Nationals during the National League Wild Card game at Nationals Park on October 1, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 01: Josh Hader #71 of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches against the Washington Nationals during the National League Wild Card game at Nationals Park on October 1, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) /
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Josh Hader and the Milwaukee Brewers have gone through their arbitration hearing, and the results have been announced.

To the surprise of most, the Milwaukee Brewers have defeated Josh Hader in arbitration, with the independent panel siding with the Crew that Hader should be paid $4.1MM in 2020.

Josh Hader filed for a $6.4MM salary, which would’ve been a record for a first-year arbitration eligible reliever.

How Did Hader Lose This Case?

At first glance, this seemed like a slam dunk case for Josh Hader and his representatives. He’s the two-time reigning NL Reliever of the Year, the Brewers have even admitted he’s the best reliever in all of baseball, and that’s how Hader was looking to get paid. Hader has put up nothing but great results since making it to the big leagues.

But, some of these things weren’t quite as important in the eyes of the Brewers and the arbitrators.

In our in-depth look at the cases for both sides, the Brewers did have one key point to hit on: low saves total.

As a reliever, especially in his current role as the closer, the arbitration process looks at save numbers quite closely, whether you think that’s a fair way of looking at it or not. But Hader only has 49 saves under his belt. He was looking to best the arbitration salary of Jonathan Papelbon, who had 113 saves entering his first year of arbitration. With that low of a total, it hurt Hader’s case.

It’s not entirely Hader’s fault, considering the Brewers used him in earlier innings in 2017 and 2018 because of the presence of Corey Knebel in the 9th inning. He was only pressed into closing duties last year because of Knebel’s injury. That is what helped the Brewers case.

Hader’s underlying struggles in 2019 also didn’t help. He struggled with the long ball and his slider was less effective.

I think the biggest problem for Hader was how high he set his salary demands, and how he was looking to make a statement with the record for a first-year arbitration reliever. If he was somewhere around 5-5.5 million dollars, he probably would’ve stood a better chance of winning, but since the arbitration panel has to choose one or the other, they had to stick with the Brewers.

One other thing that may have hurt Hader’s chances of winning was the fact that he was eligible earlier than expected. If he had another year to rack up stats heading into his first arbitration season, he likely would’ve had enough to win. However, that would’ve meant another year with a near-league minimum salary, so Hader really won’t be complaining about getting $4.1MM in 2020 instead of $600+k.

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This is good news for the Brewers from a payroll standpoint. While Hader’s salary will undoubtedly increase over the following three arbitration cases he’ll have, the Brewers just got a best-case scenario for their bottom line. It sets them up to pay less for Hader in his final remaining arbitration seasons.

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