The Milwaukee Brewers have completed yet another trade this offseason and their second one with the Seattle Mariners this winter.
On Saturday night, the Brewers announced that they have traded reliever Justin Topa to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for minor league pitching prospect Joseph Hernandez.
The Brewers have traded from their bullpen depth, sending Justin Topa to the Mariners.
Justin Topa has spend parts of the last three seasons in the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen. He came seemingly out of nowhere in 2020 with a wicked fastball-slider combo, posting a 2.35 ERA in six games. He struggled to stay healthy though and has totaled just 17 big league appearances over his three year career.
With the Brewers acquiring several bullpen options already this offseason and Topa on the outside looking in, Milwaukee sent him to the Mariners, where he figures to stand a better chance of making their big league club out of camp.
In return for Topa, the Brewers acquired 22 year old minor league right hander Joseph Hernandez. Last season Hernandez appeared in 24 games, starting 22 of them and posted a 3.39 ERA with 143 strikeouts in 116.2 innings for the Low-A Modesto Nuts.
Hernandez was signed by the Mariners as a teenager out of the Dominican Republic back in 2017. Last year was the first year in full season ball for Hernandez and his first season with more than 39 IP, which he blew well past.
The Brewers have done well in the past acquiring young international pitchers from the Mariners, see Freddy Peralta. However, Hernandez is already 22 and will likely start the 2023 season in High-A, he has shown some promising stuff and was named the California League Pitcher of the Year in 2022.
What they like is probably his slider, which Fangraphs gives a present value of a 60 grade already and a future value of 70 grade. That's an elite pitch. Hernandez is undersized for a right-handed starter, standing just 5'11" and 150 pounds. His fastball isn't elite and he struggles with command, as most young pitchers do. He allowed 4.17 BB/9 last season and hit 21 batters with a pitch.
The reason why the Brewers are making this trade is likely because they need 40 man roster space. Earlier in the week the Brewers acquired Bryse Wilson from the Pirates and signed free agent Wade Miley. Trevor Kelley was designated for assignment but they still were going to have one too many players. Before they could make the Miley signing official, they needed to clear one more spot and it's Topa's spot he will take.