Even though the lockout has frozen all transactions and stifled the rumor mill, it hasn’t stopped it completely as there are still trade proposals being put out on the Internet. There’s another that just popped up that involved Josh Hader.
Zach Rymer over at Bleacher Report had eight “win-win” trades that make sense for all teams involved. Let’s see if that’s the case here.
This hypothetical trade proposal has the Brewers trading Josh Hader to the Red Sox for a mix of big league talent and prospects.
The Red Sox need a closer and the Brewers need an offensive boost, especially at first base. The full deal Rymer suggests is this:
Red Sox receive: LHP Josh Hader
For two years of control over Josh Hader, the Red Sox would give the Brewers their starting first baseman from last year, their first round pick from 2020 in Yorke, and another top 10 prospect from the Red Sox system in Mata.
The Brewers actually were slated to sign Mata as an international free agent in 2015, per MLB Pipeline, but backed out due to a groin injury he had at the time. Now he’s boosted his prospect stock with the Red Sox and is getting close to the big leagues.
However, there are some serious issues with this return for the Brewers.
Bobby Dalbec had an okay season in 2021, hitting 25 homers, but slashing .240/.298/.494 with a 34.4% strikeout rate. That’s actually down though from the shortened 2020 season when he had a 42% K rate. Defensively, Dalbec grades poorly as a first baseman, although that hasn’t stopped the Brewers before and with the DH available, he doesn’t have to play the field.
Dalbec is being pushed as a trade candidate because Boston has the top first base prospect in minor league baseball in Tristan Casas ready to go in Triple-A, just needing an opening at the big league level.
Casas, meanwhile, across Double-A and Triple-A last year hit .279/.394/.484 with 14 home runs and just a 23% strikeout rate. If I’m David Stearns, I’m asking for Casas in return for Hader rather than Dalbec. He’s just about ready and seems to be a much better hitter than Dalbec.
Swap Dalbec with Casas and I’m interested. Let’s look at the rest of the package.
Nick Yorke was seen as a massive reach in the first round of the 2020 MLB Draft as Boston played with it’s bonus pool. But Yorke has shown he’s quite the talent. Across Low-A and High-A in 2021 Yorke hit .325/.412/.516 with 20 doubles, five triples, 14 homers, and 13 stolen bases. He drew 52 walks and struck out 69 times. That’s a very, very good stat line.
While the Brewers have some solid middle infield prospects already, Yorke might just be better than all of them. He would be a good get for the Brewers.
As for Bryan Mata, he missed the entire 2021 season with Tommy John surgery. He last pitched in a professional game in 2019, when he struggled in Double-A. Reports are he performed well at the alternate training site in 2020, but we haven’t seen him come back yet from TJS, which makes acquiring him in the package for Hader difficult to imagine.
Maybe instead they could look at a pitcher like Brayan Bello, who had a solid performance in 2021. The Brewers are likely to want at least one pitcher in return for Hader.
Perhaps they could look at bit lower on the Red Sox prospect list and aim for someone like Brandon Walter, a lefty who put up impressive numbers in A-ball last year. By going lower there, maybe the Brewers could also ask for another player to be included in the package, maybe even get Alex Binelas or David Hamilton back after sending them to Boston in the Hunter Renfroe deal.
There’s a couple of different ways to make a Josh Hader trade to Boston work, I think. It’s going to have to include big league ready talent and a mix of prospects, including at least one pitcher. Boston doesn’t have too many big pitching prospects for Milwaukee to choose from, though.
The deal as proposed by Rymer isn’t one the Brewers would accept, I think. Put Casas in place of Dalbec and switch Mata with a different pitcher maybe, and then we’re getting somewhere.
Stearns is really going to have to be blown away by an offer to trade away Josh Hader. The one Rymer proposed doesn’t meet that threshold.